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Hart student died in crash

18-year-old local girl killed in Metrolink train collision

Posted: September 14, 2008 8:57 p.m.
Updated: November 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Two of Kari Hsieh's friends spent Sunday coming to terms with their friend's tragic death and remembering how special she was. Hsieh, 18, was among the dead in the Metrolink train crash that took 25 lives Friday.

Stacy Waung was Hsieh's best friend. "She was always happy. She was always smiling no matter what," Waung said.
The two girls met at Home of Christ Church a popular congregation among the Chinese community in Santa Clarita Valley, Waung said.

Hsieh and Waung went to Hart High School where they were members of the 2007 girls tennis team.
Hart High School girls tennis head coach Chris Mansfield described Hsieh as dedicated and willing to do anything to help the team. "She was a doubles player and I asked her to play singles. She hung her head at first, but then she looked up, she gave me a big smile," Mansfield said.

Hsieh was on her way to her parents' restaurant in Simi Valley the day of the accident, Waung said. Hsieh went to Simi Valley every Friday to wait tables at the restaurant. She recently began using the Metrolink to commute. "It was her second time on the train," Waung said.

The northbound Metrolink train collided with a southbound freight train after the commuter train's engineer failed to stop at a red signal. The collision ripped the commuter train to pieces and sent more than 150 people to the area hospitals.

Waung didn't know Hsieh was killed until Sunday. "My mother told me," she said. Waung said it felt surreal knowing her best friend was dead. She wasn't the only person who felt that way.

Courtney Arnold is a freshman at San Diego State University and co-captain of the 2007 Hart tennis team. "This is the first person my age that has died," Arnold said. She was also told about Hsieh's death on Sunday and is having a hard time coming to terms with her death. "It doesn't feel real," she said.

"She was the nicest person I have ever known," Arnold said. Hsieh was trustworthy and supportive. Teammates came to her with their problems and she always offered an attentive ear and a shoulder to cry on, Arnold said.

Hsieh was an outstanding student, Mansfield said. He taught her in his Calculus class. She gave up tennis her senior year to focus on grades, he said.

Hsieh was the president of AVID, a student organization for college bound students whose parents didn't attend college. "Her parents came to this country to give her and her sister a better life and she was always appreciative," Waung said.

The Hsieh family was not available for comment.


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