Friends and classmates of a Marana High School student killed in a car accident on her way to prom are rallying to help her family and educate others about seat belt use.
Monica Dawn Gutierrez, 16, died in an April 10 crash on Interstate 10.
In the wake of her death, Dana Sanchez, one of her teachers, and the Marana High School chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions have initiated an education campaign called "Mess up Your Dress."
Gutierrez was not wearing a seat at the time of the crash that claimed her life. Sanchez said many girls don't wear seat belts when going to prom for fear they would rumple their dresses.
The SADD group also has organized a car wash to raise money to help Gutierrez's family pay some of the costs of funeral arrangements.
"Nobody plans to bury a child," Sanchez said.
The car wash is scheduled this Saturday, May 1 at the Burger King at I-10 and Cortaro Road. Students will be there between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
A group of students also raised money for Gutierrez's family the week following her death. Sanchez said they lobbied fellow students and raised more than $500 for the family.
"She was one of those students you just get attached to," said Sanchez.
Sanchez has fond remembrances of Gutierrez as a playful student who liked to joke and play tricks. She recalled one time Gutierrez and a group of students were in her classroom for a tutoring session when she left them alone for a few minutes. When Sanchez returned, Gutierrez and the other students had stacked tables and chairs high atop their teacher's desk with a note attached.
"It was hysterical," Sanchez said. "That kind of creative humor was so Monica."
Gutierrez had dreams of moving to Michigan, buying a pink Jeep and opening a hair salon after graduation.