STACYVILLE, Iowa --- Her class picture shows a pretty girl, with direct eyes and a wide smile.

That, friends will tell you, was Allison "Ally" Smith.

"She was vibrant," said one of her friends, Courtney Blake, 19, of Stacyville.

"She was always smiling, always happy."

Friends and family on Wednesday mourned the death of Smith, 17, a junior at St. Ansgar High School, who died Tuesday from injuries suffered in an accident east of St. Ansgar on Highway 218.

The Iowa State Highway Patrol reported Smith was killed when her car crashed into the back of a stopped St. Ansgar school bus.

She was the daughter of Lesa and Paul Smith of Stacyville.

"She was very involved, very popular," said Superintendent of Schools Jody Gray. "You would have to go far and wide to find someone who was not touched" by the tragedy of Smith's death.

Gray and Blake agreed that Smith's impact on her fellow students and staff was strong.

"She was so involved," Blake said. "Softball, volleyball, basketball, she kept stats for the football team."

Classmates held a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening to honor Smith, with readings and shared memories.

"She was a real unique person," said St. Ansgar junior Alexis Sliger. "She was good at sports and she was kind and caring. We will all miss her."

Soft acoustic guitar music greeted students and others as they arrived and candles were lit.

Smith's junior classmates were in the middle of the football field while others gathered in the bleachers. Sobbing could be heard over the soft guitar chords.

Everyone sang an emotional version of Amazing Grace to end the ceremony.

"It's a somber day, of course," Gray said Wednesday afternoon. "But it was also really impressive as to how kids have conducted themselves and leaned on each other for support."

Gray said it was a particularly difficult time, since Smith was well-known by not only students but staff from kindergarten to high school. The Smith family, she added, is well-known in the Mitchell County area.

Substitutes were on hand to provide respite for teachers who needed some time alone during the day.

Area Education Agency 267 counselors, staff and clergy came together to support the schools, she said.

"They have been phenomenal," Gray said.

Gray also praised bus driver Rosalee Ann Lowe. There were 21 children on the bus when the accident happened. None of the children were injured. The Smith vehicle hit the back of the bus.

Lowe kept her charges "focused toward the front of the bus," Gray said. "She stayed calm and did what she had to do to keep the children calm," she added.

The students were transferred to another bus and taken to their homes as quickly as possible, she added.

On Wednesday afternoon, the crisis team met after school to help identify students who might continue to need support in the upcoming days, Gray said.

The Iowa State Patrol reported the investigation into the accident continues.

- Mitchell County Press-News Editor David Namanny contributed to this article.

 

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