Ausha Holly, a junior at Rio Cazadero High School, was in her usual high spirits when she was walking home with her best friend after school Nov. 13.
“We decided to hang out on Wednesday,” said Alfredo Hernandez, 17, a junior at Las Flores High School. “We came out of McDonald’s, and we ate, laughed and talked.”
But the day would end in tragedy when at 7:42 p.m., Holly decided to cross Mack Road in front of Church of the Christ, 5051 Mack Road,, where the two had stopped briefly. As Hernandez was checking his cellphone to see the time, Holly was hit and killed by a westbound car on Mack Road. The driver stopped, and police say alcohol was not a factor.
“The last thing I heard from her was her laugh,” Hernandez said. “I screamed out her name, ‘Ausha, are you OK? Say something.’”
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But it was too late. As people from the church streamed out to help and a passing nurse stopped her car to check on Holly, Hernandez called his mother on his cellphone to tell her what had happened. “I saw her lying there, blood coming out of her head,” he recalled of the scene. “I was just calling her name, calling her name, but she wasn’t responding.”
Holly was taken to Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. She was 17. Services for Holly are scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at Destiny Church, 5230 Ehrhardt Ave. in Sacramento.
Born on Feb. 23, 1996, in Sacramento, Holly was the only child of Kimberly Winzer and Edward Holly III.
“She was an only child, but she was everybody’s child,” said her mother, noting that the teenager had a large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. “She loved everybody. She loved her family and she made sure that she put a smile on everybody’s face.”
Despite her parents’ divorce about five years ago, Holly remained close to her father, who lives in Stockton. “She liked to be with her dad and his family,” Winzer said. “She liked to do fun things, always interesting, like Disneyland and Big Splash Adventure.”
It was that sense of fun that caught Hernandez’s attention when he met Holly in eighth grade at Samuel Jackman Middle School.
“She was always energetic, always happy, never sad,” Hernandez said. “Everyone liked her. She was always smiling.”
Winzer said her daughter wanted to become an actress when she got older. Her favorite actress was Meagan Good, from the TV series “Deception.”
Hernandez and Holly both attended Valley High for a couple of years, but transferred to different schools this year. Ausha had fallen behind in her school credits at Valley High, and she enrolled at Rio Cazadero to catch up.
“She was only at our school for a short time, but she had already made a big impression at school,” said Doug Wendle, the principal of Rio Cazadero. “She was well liked by students and a conscientious student. She was a sweet kid, and she will be missed. Several of the students said that they were really affected because she was a good kid, and that it was harder to understand when bad things happen to good kids.”
Lieu Huynh, Holly’s homeroom teacher and science teacher, said Holly had been sick for two weeks before returning to class Nov. 13.
“We had a science project, and she was the only person who stayed after class to complete the lab work,” Huynh said. “Her lab partner left when the bell rang. But she gave up her break time to finish.”
Huynh, who saw Holly every day she was in school, said the teenager adapted well to the new school. “She made new friends, and all her friends are good kids,’ she said. “In her contract class, everyone was close to her. It (her death) hit them hard. She was very likeable.”
Huynh said students at Rio Cazadero put together a small memorial to Holly, with a picture of her and a teddy bear, at the school, and had classmates and friends sign a farewell poster. Hernandez said students at Valley High also signed a similar banner for Holly.
Family members and friends gathered for candlelight vigils at Mack Road near Summerdale Drive for two nights after the accident.
Hernandez said he didn’t know why Holly chose to cross Mack Road at that spot, which is not at an intersection. There are no nearby crosswalks.
“We normally plan the route, but I don’t know why we stopped by the church,” he said. “We were not planning to cross the street.”
He wondered if things might have been different if the two had taken a different route home. However, he said that there was one thing about the accident scene that weighs on him.
“There was a light that wasn’t working, and it gets dark,” he said. “They fixed it the day after she died, but it might have helped if the the light was fixed earlier. It would put a lot of light toward the street. Maybe the driver would have seen her coming, and my friend would still be alive.”
In the meantime, he said he will try to be strong to help Holly’s family cope with the loss. “I miss her and she will always be in my heart,” he said. “I feel she is looking down on me and protecting me, she is looking down on her family and protecting them.”
In addition to her mother and father, Holly is survived by her maternal grandmother, Marva Salery of Sacramento; a grandfather, Edward Holly II of Stockton; and three aunts, seven uncles and numerous cousins.
A memorial fund has been set up by the Latter Rain Ministries at Bank of America to help Holly’s family. The account number is 121000358 325015171010.