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# Long live Poochie


PRHS and Liberty deeply affected by death of Emilee Ruiz

Senior Emilee Ruiz, who died Mar. 5, 2019, is sitting atop the bleachers that surround the track, bearing a wide smile on May 21, 2018. Strands of dyed red hair are blown across her face and her silver nose ring glints in the spring sunshine. In another memorial photo near the PRHS parking lot, Ruiz wears the same bright smile and playfully holds up a cherry from her chocolate milkshake. At the memorial, still visible to students who walk the side entrance, A small prayer box is perched against a photo. One dated for Mar. 5 reads: “I love you forever Emilee, never stop smiling and laughing up there. Fly high, angel.”

Senior Emilee Ruiz was struck by an oncoming vehicle at around 10:50 pm on Tuesday Mar. 5, on northbound Highway 101 in Templeton after she stepped into oncoming traffic. Police are currently investigating the situation.

On Wednesday, Mar. 6,  the planter boxes at the entrance of the school were filled with flowers, framed photos, stuffed animals, and letters from loved ones. The event and emotional grief poured out over social media late that night and across days that followed.

“Everytime we were together i wouldn’t be able to contain my laughter. Her impact on the people around her was truly unreal,” said an Instagram post from senior Ava Frontera. “I will never forget your smile and all the fun times we had.”

For those around her, Ruiz was a center of joy and compassion. “Emilee definitely had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. She always cared about everyone, always wanted to make sure everyone felt included,” senior Tiana Walton said. “Even if it was your first time meeting her, she would just automatically click with you. She wanted to be friends with everybody.”

Ruiz’s love for people was shared between both friends and family.

“She had a big family with a lot of siblings,” senior Jack Schlickeiser said. “She’d babysit them a lot, work for the family a lot. She was very supportive of her family and had a very good heart.”

Less than a year later, those photos that captured pure joy are surrounded by friends and peers leaving flowers and shedding tears for their friend’s death. Flowers, stuffed animals, and candles have been left by friends at both PRHS and Liberty High. A cross with flowers sprung up on Highway 101 in Templeton where the incident occured.

Friends and family members have held multiple vigils in Ruiz’s honor. Around 150 people gathered and released many balloons into the air on Mar. 7, in an event organized by Walton in the lot adjacent to the school.

To those affected by the loss, these events are helping heal the community and bringing people together who feel so lost after such a tragedy.

“It’s making people realize that there shouldn’t be so much hate,”  Walton said, “[and] that we should all love each other and all be there for each other.”

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