Memorial grows for Cooper Elem. student killed in crash



Posted on May 5, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 6 at 5:52 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--Students and staff at Cooper Elementary were in mourning on Monday. Students added to a growing memorial outside the school to honor a 10-year-old classmate killed Saturday in a car wreck near Ritzville.

Washington State Patrol said 38-year-old Nathan James was traveling Eastbound on Interstate 90 when his car crashed into the back of a semi-truck outside of Ritzville. Gracie Snider, 10, was killed in the crash. Another 10-year-old, Ayla James, was in the hospital Monday fighting for her life. James was Snider’s soccer coach.    

READ: Cooper Elem. School student killed in crash with semi

DONATE: Alya James' Caring Bridge fund

"The whole family is devastated. The whole community is devastated,” said Snider’s Uncle Ben O’Brien.

Ribbons, balloons and pictures hung from the fence of Cooper Elementary on Monday. Notes from classmates showed how much Snider was missed.

Friends and family described Snider as amazing, awesome and wonderful.

"Just full of life, she was the spark in everyone's life,” said O’Brien.

Snider was the younger of two girls in her family. Those close to her said she loved sports, especially soccer.

"She loved the Spokane Sounders and she wanted to plan a trip this year to go over. Just a wonderful kid,” said O’Brien.

Snider was part of Foxes Soccer Club.

"It's been tough to deal with, talking with the families and coaches,” said coaching director for Foxes Soccer Club, Chaz Valdez.

Valdez was Snider’s coach from winter camp. He said she was a speedy and talented player who loved her teammates.

"Anytime you saw her she had a soccer ball in her hand or was kicking it around or trying to juggle it,” said Valdez.

The soccer club will hold a candle light vigil on Wednesday night to raise money for Snider’s family to help with funeral expenses. The vigil will be at 7:30 p.m. at Manito Park. The public is invited.

DONATE: Sports scholarship honoring Gracie

CONNECT: Vigil details