Alex Cabrero Reporting
Students at Salt Lake's East High School got a painful lesson about the dangers of bacterial meningitis. Tonight they gathered for a candlelight vigil for a popular student who died from the rare disease.
School is supposed to be a place where you learn about life and what to do with it. But sometimes, unfortunately, you learn about death, and in doing so, how special life is.
In high school you're only supposed to say goodbye after graduation. 10th grade is way too soon.
Abe Carter, Student at East High School: “It’s sad walking down the halls, everyone is down.”
Sarah Doxey, Hales' Best Friend: “It’s not something you think would ever happen in your whole life.”
Sarah Doxey still has a hard time understanding why her best friend Madeline Hales was in class one day and the next, just an empty chair.
Sarah Doxey: “I would look over and wait for her to come through the door, and she never came.”
Last week was the last time she came through the door. She became sick, stayed home, and died Monday morning, from a disease that's maybe rarer than even a high schooler getting it.
Abe Carter: “I was shocked, sad, a little confused. It’s just hard, you know?”
Abe Carter was one of those fortunate to know Madeline, but when you talk to East High students you find out almost everyone did.
Abe Carter: “I always remember she was the first to talk to the new kid.”
Christina Vernon: “She was the first to open her arms to me and love me.”
Christina Vernon: “I would’ve never made it. She’s the reason why I made it through.”
And even though Vernon moved back to Minnesota this year, when she heard her friend died, she flew here right away, just for the vigil. It's what Madeline would do for her, or anybody.
A memorial service was held for Hales earlier in the day. Grief counselors have been helping students at the school all week, but this is something that'll take awhile to get over, if at all.