Teachers, fellow graduates mourn girl killed in crash

Source: Dallas Morning News
Author: Debra Dennis
Date: June 16, 2002

COLLEYVILLE – Two weeks after leaving high school, members of L.D. Bell High School's graduating class gathered for a reunion they had not planned – the funeral of a classmate.

Stephanie Frank, 18, of Bedford died June 6 after a car she was traveling in hit a utility pole in Hurst.

"She lived a lot for a girl of 18. She accomplished so much in her life," said Karen Remmert, 17, who had been friends with Ms. Frank since first grade when they attended Bedford Heights Elementary School. "She was an amazing person. She genuinely loved everybody. She was very independent. She didn't care what people thought about her."

Aspiring designer

At the funeral home in Colleyville, family and friends displayed a pink beaded prom dress, designed and made by Ms. Frank, as a symbol of her accomplishments.

"She was going to enter that dress in the state fair in the fall," said her father, David Frank.

She had ambitions of being a fashion designer and planned to enroll in Tarrant County College in the fall.

"She loved to make clothes, to buy clothes. She was an incredible little girl," said Mr. Frank. "She was a member of the Dallas figure skating club. She was very involved. She had lots and lots of life."

Outside the funeral home, friends used pens to write their thoughts and final goodbyes on the two-seater, purplish 1986 Toyota MR2 that Ms. Frank drove.

"I fixed it up with special paint – an extreme rainbow that changes colors when the sun hits it," said Mr. Frank. "Everyone knew her by the car."

Mr. Frank said he purposely bought a two-seater to prevent backseat drivers from distracting his daughter while she drove.

"But it was not her car that she was hurt in," he said, choking back tears.

Investigators are still trying to reconstruct the accident and determine a cause, said Hurst Police Sgt. Craig Teague.

"We're interviewing witnesses, and some of them are out of town," he said.

Police said that Anthea Armstrong, another recent Bell graduate, was driving south in the 1800 block of Brown Trail, a winding section of the street, when she lost control and hit a pole.

Speeding, he said, may have been a factor. The posted speed limit is 30 mph, and a preliminary investigation determined that the driver was going about 50 mph, he said.

No charges have been filed in connection with the accident.

Ms. Armstrong, 18, is recovering in good condition at Harris Methodist Fort Worth hospital.

Because school is out, grief counselors were sent to the funeral home to help students who wanted to talk, said Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district spokeswoman Judy Ramos.

Praise from teachers

Ms. Frank's teachers, many of whom attended the funeral, recalled her as a sensitive and reliable woman who was always willing to help with projects and fund-raisers.

"She had a lot of stick-to-itiveness," said Felita Ramirez, a family consumer science teacher at the school. "She helped me a lot."

Fellow graduates and members of the school's award-winning Raiderette drill team said they would remember Ms. Frank for her positive attitude.

"She was a very avid Raiderette," said graduate Lindsay Harse, 17. "It suited her. She was so happy. She did so well with it."

Former teammate Lorelle Hadaway, 18, who attended elementary school with Ms. Frank, also recalled her love of life.

"She was pointed out as a role model. ... With that, the team was always looking to her," said Ms. Hadaway. "She always loved to dance. Stephanie was very fun-loving.

"She was always a caring person. She will be missed."