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'It's just a terrible tragedy'

"A 17-year-old South Kitsap High School student was killed Friday afternoon in a traffic accident along Mitchell Avenue.According to Sergeant Mark Duncan of the Port Orchard Police Department, a driver and two passengers were in a vehicle traveling southbound around 3 p.m. when, for reasons still under investigation, the vehicle left the roadway and hit a split-rail cedar fence. Upon impact, two rails from the fence crashed through the windshield of the car.The front passenger apparently saw it coming and was able to move, said Duncan. The headrest deflected (the rail) and it went out the back passenger window. The other rail traveled across and hit the driver.Duncan said that within 30 seconds of the accident, an off-duty Kitsap County Sheriff called to report the collision. Officers and paramedics responded and rendered first aid to the driver, who was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.Of the passengers, They both sustained minor injuries, but did not request first aid, said Duncan. I do know (the driver) was clearly critically injured. The driver, 17-year-old Angela Champneys, died on Sunday as a result of her injuries.Champneys was a senior at South Kitsap High School and was involved in the student trainer program for two and a half years. She was on the way to a cross-country practice at the time of the accident.She was very popular, said Patrick Olson, a certified athletic trainer and teacher at South Kitsap High School. She was a great kid - sweet, compassionate - she had lots of friends and touched a lot of people's lives.'In Memory of Angela' messages adorned South Kitsap High School hallways by Monday morning.The school district has done a great job (bringing in counselors, helping students deal with their grief), but it's very painful, said Olson. The police investigation (although not yet complete) points to the conclusion that it actually was simply an accident.Our initial investigation does not indicate speed as a factor, said Duncan. (And) all of them were wearing seatbelts.What may have happened, Duncan said, is a simple distraction.While cars represent freedom, once in awhile, you see a life ended in a blink of an eye due to a momentary inattention, he said. I think we've all done that. It's just a terrible tragedy.Angela was a wonderful, caring human being, said Olson. If (anyone were) going to take anything with them from this, it's to remember how special she was. "

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