2018-04-05 / Front Page

Community reels after deadly accident

Takes life of second grader
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

AVA GEIGER AVA GEIGER The short life of Ava Marie Geiger, a second grader at Glen Lake Elementary School, is being remembered with tears and praise by her classmates and an extended school community that is reeling in the wake of her passing.

The fun of an Easter egg hunt came to a tragic end Saturday in a traffic accident that took the life of the 8-year-old Maple City girl.

“Ava was an incredible friend to all, a dear heart with a big smile and full of hugs,” her teacher Alisha Needham said. “Such a sweet kid … We all feel lucky to have known her.”

Ava loved to sing, swim and go tubing, was an awesome artist and specifically loved fishing. She loved animals and hoped to one day be a zookeeper.

Grief counselors were at the school Tuesday when students returned from spring break. They were available to students in all grade levels.

“It’s impacting students across the board,” superintendent Sander Scott said. “Our older students knew Ava through her older sister Brianna (Geiger), who is a senior.”

Ava’s death set in motion the school district’s response using a program developed by the National Association of School Psychologists. The program suggests guidance on how best to inform students about the death of a classmate and how to answer questions from them.

Members of the school’s crisis team gathered Monday to put plans in place for the return of students Tuesday, the first day of school after spring break.

“For some of you, this may be the first time that someone you know has died,” students in grades K-6 were told in a prepared statement. “… People react to this type of event in different ways, and that is OK.”

Guidance counselors provided a listening ear to students who had an especially hard time.

Ava was a passenger in a vehicle that failed to stop at the intersection of M-72 and Plowman Road. Also in the vehicle was her 5-year-old niece, Arianna Geiger, who was seriously injured in the crash.

The younger girl was transported to Munson Medical Center after the accident and was sent to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids for treatment. She returned home to Maple City Monday.

“Telling my daughter what happened was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” said her father, Travis Geiger, in a social media post of the passing of his younger sister, Ava. “Arianna lost her best friend and that has to be so hard for a 5-year-old.”

The community at large has shown how much it cares for Ava and her family. A GoFundMe account set up to cover funeral expenses surpassed its $9,000 goal just two days after the account was established.

Get-well cards for Arianna can be sent to 1526 W. Kasson Center Rd., Maple City, MI 49664.

The accident took place just after the two girls had attended an Easter egg hunt at the Glen Lake Community Reformed Church. Ava interacted with Pastor Dan DeVries.

“She was all dressed up in a beautiful new pink dress,” DeVries said. “Who would have thought she’d be wearing that beautiful pink dress when she met Jesus?”

DeVries will lead the community in a service celebrating Ava’s life set for Sunday at 3 p.m. at the church.

Visitation will take place at the church in Burdickville on Saturday from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be directed to Glen Lake Community Reformed Church, 3902 W. MacFarlane Rd., Glen Arbor, MI 49636 and will be distributed to several projects to honor Ava’s life.

A complete obituary for Ava will appear in next week’s Enterprise.

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