PALMETTO BAY (CBSMiami) – The family of 13-year-old Kaely Camacho, who died in a deadly hit and run accident by an alleged drunk driver, attended a memorial walk in Kaely’s honor at her school on Wednesday morning.
Students at Southwood Middle School in Palmetto Bay walked one-mile around the school in remembrance of their classmate who died in April. They chanted, “We love Kaely,” during the touching tribute to their classmate.
“It’s very touching, ya know, she was very loved. Kaely was very loved by a lot of kids, you can see that here today,” said Kaely’s mom Angie Camacho.
The Southwood PTSA teamed up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to host the event.
“It’s wonderful, it’s a really great feeling to see the community come together,” said Angie Camacho. “Principal Leal, the PTSA, Helen Witty from MADD put this together in a short period of time. We’re so grateful.”
Witty, whose 16-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver in 2000, delivered a speech to Camacho’s 8th grade class last October in which she shared her daughter’s story and warned about the dangers of driving drunk.
Witty told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that each student participating in the walk-a-thon had raised at least $5 through pledges.
“Even more important than that,” she said, “was the message that this event is sending and the awareness that is being raised.”
“It’s gonna bring much awareness to the tragedy that we are going through and hopefully save a lot of lives with these kids and they’re going to think twice in the future about doing something so stupid,” said Angie during the walk. “Drinking and driving is not a cool thing and I think it starts here in their younger years and this is sending a great message.”
The Camacho family walked around the school three different times as students from the 6th, 7th and 8th grades started their walks at different times throughout the morning. D’Oench observed that all grades had spirited marches, chanting “We love Kaely” and “Here we go Kaely, here we go.”
The largest group came from 8th grade—the grade that Kaely was in at the time of her death.
“We cherish everything the community is doing for us and for Kaely and most importantly for people in the future,” said Kaely’s dad Kirk Camacho. “Kids are our future. I think it’s going to help that we teach these kids at a young age what not to do to avoid these tragedies.”
Kirk Camacho was driving his minivan the morning of April 13th with his daughters Kaely and Bree Ann in the vehicle when Sandor Guillen slammed into them at U.S.1 and SW 184th Street in Southwest Miami-Dade.
Police said Guillen was driving 100 mph on the Miami-Dade busway. He has pleaded not guilty to DUI Manslaughter. Police said he had a blood alcohol level three times over the legal limit.
Kaely’s older sister also took part in Wednesday’s Walk for Kaely.
“I’m here to support my sister. She’s bringing all these people together and I’m just here to help them stay together,” said Kaely’s sister Bree Ann. “Look at all these people. It’s overwhelming but in such a fantastic way that I can’t even describe it to you. It feels so good. I know she’s here in all of our hearts.”
She was like a sister to me,” said Zoe Norat, Kaely’s cousin. I think that everyone needs to know how serious drunk driving is.”
“I’m here to support my little sister’s best friend and my best friend’s little sister and to show awareness of how drunk driving is not cool and you need to stop,” said Carly Yeomans.
Each student raised money to support Mothers Against Drunk Driving and its programs.
At a ceremony after the walk-a-thon, Southwood Middle School Principal, Deborah Leal, announced that a thousand students had taken part in the event, meaning that thousands of dollars had been raised for M.A.D.D.
A tribute by the school’s Magnet Dancers moved students to tears.
“I just wish she could be here with us and I love her and I miss her,” said 8th grader and magnet dancer Azsha Hampton. “I miss her laugh and her smile. I just miss her.”
And as they vow to never forget Kaely Camacho, a tree was planted by the school in her memory and a page of this year’s yearbook was devoted to her.`