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Remembering ‘Tina’

Seneca Valley students, Germantown community pay tribute to Christina Morris-Ward, teen who was struck, killed while walking to school.

Death is one of those things Seneca Valley student Ramatu Kembe doesn’t quite understand, especially the reason it had to come for her friend and fellow classmate, Christina Morris-Ward.

"I miss her a lot and I wish she could be with me,” Kembe said. “But there's a lot of things that we don't understand, and death is one of them. I wish I could have just hugged her before she left, but I couldn't."

Kembe was one of several to share memories of the late Christina Morris-Ward, 15, during a vigil outside Seneca Valley High School Monday night.

Morris-Ward, a sophomore, was struck and killed by a car as she walked to school on Halloween morning. Amid the air of mourning and tears during the vigil was hope that the community would learn from what happened to Morris-Ward.

“It's going to be hard,” said her mother Gwendolyn Ward. “We're going to lay her to rest on Friday. I just want you all to keep it going and remember Christina and continue to cherish her.”

Montgomery County Councilman Craig Rice, who represents Germantown, said a meeting had been convened with Montgomery County police and Montgomery County Public Schools administrators on Nov. 19 to discuss ways to improve pedestrian safety for students, in response to Morris-Ward’s death.

“You have my promise,” Rice said, addressing the family. “I do not want to have to attend another function like this, to see another young person's life snuffed out. It's not acceptable.”

Meanwhile, making its way through the crowd was a petition launched by a parent, calling for improved safety measures at Germantown Road and Wisteria Drive, where Christina was hit.

According to Montgomery County police, Morris-Ward was in the process of crossing Germantown Road when she was struck by a 2010 Ford Fusion travelling north on a green signal. Police said she succumbed to her injuries at the hospital. No charges were filed against the driver.

“It hurts,” said Brenda Morris, her grandmother. “I wish these drivers would slow down and look out for these kids.”

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, who expressed his condolences to the family, called Morris-Ward's death tragic. He said it was his hope that the number of car collisions with pedestrians would be reduced to “zero.”

“I know that at some point in time we will have all the answers to avoid these types of tragedies,” Leggett said. “I know that at some point in time we will understand what it is and what we need to do to be safe. Unfortunately, that is not before us today."

Seneca Valley students and Morris-Ward’s former classmates from Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School came in droves, some of them wearing red bandannas as a show of support.

They described her as warm, caring and fun to be around.

“I wanted to show support, to show that I care,” said Tania Davis, a 12-year-old student who knew Morris-Ward from Martin Luther King Middle School.

“Every day I saw her, I always gave her a hug,” Davis said.

Fifth District Commander Luther Reynolds of the Montgomery County Police Department offered his personal prayers to Morris-Ward’s family and urged drivers and students to mind the rules of the road.

"We all need to model this behavior as adults," Reynolds said.

Seneca Valley High School Principal Marc Cohen encouraged students to honor Morris-Ward’s memory by trying to embody the good qualities they said she possessed — her humor, her empathy, her smile, her strong drive to live out her own dreams.

"Every morning when you wake up and everyday when you go to bed,” Cohen said, “remember your dreams and do everything you can to live them out because it's what she would want for you."

Jane Dowe November 07, 2012 at 12:57 PM
I'm so sorry that this had to happen. I wish no parent this type of tragedy. But the reality is this. Many of those high school students cross that street in the morning and afternoon, especially for lunch. I have observed many of them spitting and kicking cars, even when they are at a stand still. Hundreds of them cross when they feel like it to get lunch from Mikey D's or Burger King. They have been seen throwing their garbage at people, on the streets and at cars. They hardly ever follow the crossing signals or utilize the crosswalks. Alot of these parents think their kids are "angels", but step outside and observe what their real behaviors cause other people. Speaking as a driver, these kids have no regards for their own lives or the lives of others.
Frank McCants November 07, 2012 at 02:51 PM
That's a bit heavy. I do agree that there is zero need for improved safety measures since she was crossing at a redlight, but you don't need to lump her in with a group that hurls trash at cars.
AlleyCat November 08, 2012 at 06:50 PM
This is a very sad situation for all involved. Think of the guilt that the driver is going to have to live with although it sounds as if they didn't do anything wrong. Luther Reynolds of the Montgomery County Police Department was quoted in the article saying "We all need to model this behavior as adults". This is so true. I live in the Gaithersburg area and way too often I see families(where the adults along with their children) are walking in the middle of the street (even in places where there is a sidewalk), crossing anywhere they please (not in crosswalks), and stepping in front of moving cars (knowing that technically pedestrians have the right of way). I am not saying that this young girl was at fault, but I see a whole new generation of children who are learning from their parents this reckless behavior and I have to agree with Officer Reynolds when he says that we have to lead by example. I am saddened by this tragedy, especially having daughters of my own. I can't imagine what the family is going through. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragedy like this to make people change their ways. My prayers go out to the family and friends of Christina. To all, please use this as a learning experience for your children and yourselves, so that at least something good may come of something so horrific.

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