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OH Shocked, Saddened by Death of Juniors James Cartigiano and Gabriella Heiderick.

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In the span of less than one month, Olympic Heights has lost two of its students to separate tragic accidents with the deaths of 16-year-old juniors James Cartigiano and Gabriella Heiderick.

On Jan 22, Cartigiano was accidentally shot in the head and was declared brain dead on Jan. 25. Two days later, he was taken off life support, and the family started planning for his funeral.

Heiderick, also known as Bebe, was killed when she lost control of her car as she was traveling west on Glades Road and it struck a tree around 3:30am on Feb. 20. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a report that Heiderick was killed instantly and that there was no evidence that either drugs or alcohol were involved, although “speed appears to be a factor.”

According to a CBS-12 news report, however, Heiderick’s family has said she was texting and Snapchatting at the time of the accident. The family hopes that this tragedy prevents the next teen from making the same final mistake of texting while driving.

Friends of Gabby say that she was a caring person and was always happy, smiling, and laughing. “I was in disbelief. I was hysterical,” said OH senior Jordyn Bloom, who was friends with Heiderick. “No one expects it to happen to them or someone they care about.”

Gabby was also a beloved member of the OH Drama Troupe. In her memory, the Drama Troupe will do a one-time repeat performance of the play Elephant’s Graveyard in which Gabby had a role in the initial production. The performance will be Wednesday, Feb. 24 in drama teacher Ms. Kimberly Polewski’s room and will done with no set, costumes, or make-up.

The family has since started a GoFundMe account to help raise money for the unexpected funeral costs for Gabriella https://www.gofundme.com/wuquzaa4. As a testament to the community’s sincere concern and love for Gabby, in just over 24 hours the goal of $22,000 was surpassed.

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Cartigiano’s death came as he was spending the night at a close friend`s house. According to the Cartigiano family’s attorney, during the course of the evening, the two came across a loaded gun in the house and Cartigiano’s friend accidentally fired the gun with the bullet striking Cartigiano in the head.

The shooting is under investigation, and no criminal charges have been filed; however, the Cartigiano family attorney said he will be filing a civil lawsuit against the family which owns the home and gun.

Cartigiano’s close friend Angel Gonzalas hopes people remember James as an, “outgoing kid [who] was never down about anything and always had a smile on his face.”

The Cartigiano family has called for stricter gun control in Boca Raton, stating, “He’d just gotten a brand new car three months ago; he was waiting to go to college. That’s all not going to happen because somebody was careless.”

Boca Raton Deputy Mayor Robert Weinroth showed support for the family’s cause, saying, “No family is immune from what Stephen and Yvonne [James’s parents] are facing when loaded guns are left in the reach of children. We must protect our families from the dangers of unsupervised guns.”

As the details of the deaths of these two young people unfold, the OH student body, faculty, administration, and community is once again left in a state of shocked grief at the fourth tragic loss it has suffered in the past seven months. In August of last year, sophomore Kayla Joy Farese was taken by Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and in September, senior Lindsey Madore passed away after suffering a seizure in a hot tub.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “OH Shocked, Saddened by Death of Juniors James Cartigiano and Gabriella Heiderick.”

  1. Hmmmmm on February 27th, 2016 2:00 am

    How can they say that neither alcohol or drugs were not a factor in the young woman’s death. Her Twitter shows her character, tweeting about vodka and drinking. And she was out at a party past 3am. Before the media says drugs or alcohol were not a factor, perhaps they should wait for the toxicology reports. Also, thank God this teen did not kill anyone else on the road. I cannot believe they are starting a scholarship in the name of a girl that was texting/snapchatting/speeding out past curfew who could have possibly killed or injured an innocent person on the road. Only in Boca do you see such disregard.

    It’s very very sad what happened to this 16 year old girl, condolences to all that loved her. But don’t put her on a pedestal. Let this be a wake up call to all distracted drivers who may or may not be under the influence after being at a party until 3am

  2. Kelly Lara on February 2nd, 2017 10:30 pm

    Shame on you. This girls intentions were always very good, this girl helped everyone she could and was a beautiful and happy soul, how dare you say that she doesn’t deserve a scholarship named after her because she made a mistake that took her life, she could have injured someone else but thank god she didn’t besides who would be walking at the time of day..? She deserves more than a simple scholarship named after her and she sure as hell deserves some respect. She made a mistake that cost her life, she was not drunk or drugged and if she was drunk, that doesn’t make a difference she is still a smart beautiful girl with an amazing personality who made a mistake that she will never be able to fix or learn from, but hopefully other people will learn from it. Have some respect, she deserves more that being on a pedestal this girl was generous and drinking never changed that she was always a beautiful soul with the heart of gold. Don’t make things worse by pointing out her flaws or her mistakes. I’m sure you have made plenty of stupid decisions and be thankful it never cost you your life. This girl was not ready to go she was not expecting to leave so soon and neither were we. I love you Gabby rest easy beautiful .

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OH Shocked, Saddened by Death of Juniors James Cartigiano and Gabriella Heiderick.