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School mourns after girl, 8, dies in wreck Monday
Police say van passengers may not have been wearing seat belts
An injured woman is carried on a stretcher to an ambulance after a two-vehicle wreck at Queen City Parkway and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. An 8-year-old girl injured in the wreck died after being transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in critical condition. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Faculty and classmates at World Language Academy in Chestnut Mountain spent Tuesday mourning the loss of 8-year-old Aylin Rodriguez.

Aylin, a second-grader at the school at 4670 Winder Highway, was killed in a Monday afternoon wreck at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Queen City Parkway in Gainesville.

She was "an excellent student with a beautiful smile and eagerness to learn," said World Language principal David Moody in an emailed statement.

"It is very difficult news for the WLA family to receive. Our school is very close and our community truly views itself as a family," Moody said. "The loss of a family member is traumatic, to say the least. We are leaning on one another to work through this."

The school had counselors on standby.

"We have met with children and staff members throughout the day," Moody said. "The support will continue in the upcoming days as we continue to handle our loss."

Also, the school is "pulling together to support the family" financially, accepting donations from the community, Moody said.

Three others were injured in the wreck, which is still under investigation by Gainesville police.

Aylin was thrown from the right rear window of a Chevy Astro van after it was struck by a Nissan Altima, causing a serious head injury.

She was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead.

Her parents and 11-year-old brother were also in the van.

The mother, 39, and the son, who police said had an asthma attack in the aftermath, also were taken to the hospital. They were in stable condition. The father, 40, who was driving the van, had a scratch on his forehead but refused care.

Police do not believe everyone in the van was wearing a seat belt. The two-vehicle accident involved the van, which was heading east on Martin Luther King, and a Nissan Altima headed south on Queen City, Gainesville police spokesman Joe Britte said. The Altima's sole passenger, a woman, was later taken to the hospital with complaints of a hurt arm.

Police said charges are pending.

No other details, including names of the others involved in the wreck, were available Tuesday.

Gordon Higgins, spokesman for the Hall County school system, said Aylin's brother is a fifth-grader at World Language Academy.

She also has a sister who attends Johnson High School.