By Jonathan Tall
SNOHOMISH — The lives of two Snohomish teenagers described as “inseparable” were lost last week in Seattle, leading to an outpouring of support for their families.
Khalea Thoeuk “was loved by all who knew her,” according to an online fundraiser organized by friends of her family.
Thoeuk and her friend Riley Danard were killed by a drunken driver going the wrong way on the West Seattle Bridge last week, according to the Seattle Police Department. Both were 18.
Danard attended Snohomish High School last year, and Thoeuk was a senior at the school, according to the Snohomish School District.
In a letter addressed to Snohomish High students and their families, Principal Nate DuChesne said this was a time to come together.
“Each person will react differently and tragedies like this are difficult to understand,” DuChesne said. “One of the most important things we can do is to be supportive and encourage an open expression of feelings.”
The Danard and Thoeuk families did not respond to requests for comment or an interview with The Daily Herald.
Shortly after midnight March 22, police received 911 calls of a white pickup truck traveling the wrong way on the bridge, according to Seattle police. Witnesses reported the truck collided with the car, police said.
Danard had turned 18 the day before, according to a story by KING 5.
Arriving officers found the pickup truck and a white sedan with “extensive damage,” police said. Seattle firefighters pronounced Danard and Thoeuk dead at the scene.
The driver reportedly showed signs of impairment and was under investigation for vehicular homicide, according to Seattle police. The truck driver was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, and he was expected to be released in the next few weeks, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. No charges had been filed as of Friday.
In a statement released to KING 5, Thoeuk’s godmother Kelsey Brogan said the two cared deeply about each other and were like family.
“She was different, I think she was an angel,” Brogan said. “We got to have her here with us for as long as we got her. But it wasn’t enough.”
A Snohomish McDonald’s fundraiser raised $4,250 for both families Wednesday, according to the restaurant. The Elle Marie Hair Studio in Snohomish also held a fundraiser on Tuesday and Wednesday, donating $10 from every haircut to the families.
The salon said Danard was a customer and worked at the Starbucks next door, and they wanted to do something that supported the community.
Thoeuk was survived by her parents, younger sister and younger brother, according to an online fundraiser. A seven-day ceremony to honor Thoeuk was held at the Cambodian Buddhist Society in Mill Creek from March 23 to 30. Temple staff said people should also pray for Danard.
A memorial for the crash victims had been set up in a quiet prayer room. On a carpeted floor with soft yellow light, assortments of flowers were placed under a gleaming statue of Buddha.
According to Cambodian Buddhist beliefs, the seven days after a person’s passing are “essential in guiding the soul towards the understanding that they have transitioned from the earthly realm,” Khalea Thoeuk’s family said in a Facebook post.
A public service honoring Danard and Thoeuk will be held April 7 at the Thomas Family Farm at 9010 Marsh Road south of Snohomish. A private ceremony honoring Thoeuk will be held the next day.
Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; email@example.com; Twitter: @EDHJonTall.