The Angel Among Us

Victoria Arguelles and Claudia Vera

Fridays. The prospect of the weekend typically goes hand-in-hand with the mornings that accompany them, yet as 16-year-old Bree Ann Camacho, a Palmetto alumni, prepared herself for another school day on April 13, 2012, something did not feel right. Leaning against their bathroom door, Bree took a second out of the morning hustle-and-bustle to stop and marvel at the peaceful expression on her younger sister’s face as she slept. Only three years younger than her, Kaely Marie Camacho would soon be woken up by Bree for their morning commute from their father’s to their mother’s house for school preparations.

​“It was the weirdest thing. I was just staring at her and I had this weird feeling,” Bree said. “My dad said he felt kind of strange too.”

​Entering Kirk Camacho’s Dodge Caravan, each with their own sleeping blankets, the sisters assumed their usual positions in their father’s car: Bree in the passanger’s seat with Kaely resting in the reclined seat behind her father. As the car drifted closer towards their destination, the girls simultaneously drifted into a deep slumber, given the early hour of approximately 5 a.m. At the same time that Kirk’s minivan crossed the intersection of 184 St. and US 1, their car was intercepted by the manic driving of an intoxicated man, the point of impact being Kaely’s seat.

​From there, chaos began to unfold. While Kirk delicately removed Kaely from the backseat, a kind stranger aided Bree out the window of the van’s jammed door.

​“I started crying and I kept saying ‘my sister’ like I was a child. My dad got out of the car and he didn’t even have to open a sliding door to get back inside… While he was trying to get her seatbelt off, I was trying to get my seatbelt off since it was jammed. But my window was broken and some man came out of nowhere and he had to pull me out the window, and at the same time he was yelling at my dad to get her out of the car,” Bree said.  “My dad got her out and we got under a tree.  My dad asked for my phone since his was lost in the accident, and he had me call my mom, then he had me call my step-mom, but he talked to her because supposedly I couldn’t talk.”

​A woman who happened to be jogging at the time arrived at the scene of the accident, fervently retrieved her cell phone and dialed 911 for the Camacho family, since they were preoccupied with notifying the rest of their family.

​From there, Bree was transported to Baptist Hospital, while Kaely was taken to Jackson South, then airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in downtown Miami. After learning that her injuries were minimal, Bree’s grandmother took Bree to see Kaely at the trauma center.

​“[My grandma] said ‘Mommy wants us to go to the hospital to see Kaely because she’s not doing good.’,” Bree said. “And then I said ‘Is she gonna make it?’ and my grandma said ‘I don’t know.’ And then I started crying.”

​Unfortunately, Bree was unable to arrive in time to say her final goodbyes to Kaely. That mid-morning, Kaely Marie Camacho passed away.

​Fridays. The prospect of the weekend normally accompanies their names, yet the shadows of grief and shock casted their clouds over the weekday, eliminating any predispositions of a carefree break from school. On April 13, 2012, the Camacho family lost a daughter, sister, niece and granddaughter, as the world lost a beautiful soul.

​​Known as ‘The Braid Master” amongst her friends, Kaely was a cheerleader, a dancer and an avid giver of advice. Although she had an irrational fear of strawberries and horror movies alike, Kaely was fearless when it came to defending both herself and her friends.

​“She was my best friend,” sophomore Gabriella Comas-Perez said. “I’ve known her since the sixth grade and we had almost every class together [in eighth grade], so we were really close. We spent almost every weekend together and she knew me like the back of her hand. She could realize something was wrong just by looking at me.”

Not a softball player herself, Kaely attended every softball game of her friends, cheering them on from the sidelines and earning herself the title of the unofficial team mascot. With this title came the creation of Kaely’s very own team shirt, reading “Camacho 6” on the back, referencing her lucky number. Buried in the team shirt she received, Kaely holds a permanent place in the team’s heart.

Despite the fact that Kaely was one of the younger children out of her five siblings, she contained a streak of endearing maturity paired with innocence.

​Today, two years after the tragedy, Kaely’s memory remains untouched and her spirit stays alive within her friends and family. Death hits each person in a unique way, yet as humans, we all feel the similar stages of shock, grief, denial and anger. We live in fear of the rumbling roar of words, of “goodbyes” and “should haves” and references using “was” rather than “is”, yet at the end of the day, a person’s soul can never die. Kaely was, and remains to be, an incredible girl, a vivacious reminder that life is precious and each decision we make has the chance to impact all of those around us. Rest in peace, Kaely Marie Camacho.