Columbia child `had a smile for everyone'

Loss: An 8-year-old girl who died after being hit by a truck is remembered by family and school staff members.

August 20, 2002|By Jason Song and Tanika White | Jason Song and Tanika White,SUN STAFF

Jose Marquez was building a swing set in his back yard with three seats, one for each of his children. Now, he is unsure what to do.

"Daisy's gone, so I don't know how many seats we need now," he said, staring at the half-finished structure at his Columbia home.

Life doesn't make much sense for Marquez these days.

Daisy Ruby Marquez, his 8-year-old daughter, died on the evening of Aug. 12 in an accident on Coleman Thomas Road while bicycle riding with her half-brother, Marcos Ochoa, 13.

Police said Daisy and Marcos pulled their bicycles onto the side of the road as a pickup truck and trailer approached. But as it passed, Daisy fell from her bicycle into the path of the rear wheels of the trailer, police said.

The driver of the truck, Damion Elliott Moore, 34, who lives less than a block away in the 9200 block of Cartersville Road in Columbia, has not been charged, police said.

Marquez was in his back yard when someone told him about the accident. He ran to the scene and saw that Daisy's lips were turning blue. Marquez and others tried to resuscitate her, but Daisy was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival at Howard County General Hospital.

When Marquez and his wife, Teresa, went to see Daisy at the hospital, they noticed that she had goose bumps on her arms. "It was like she was cold," Marquez said. "We kept rubbing her to try and make them go away."

Family members, including Daisy's half-sister Cindy Ochoa, 11, treasure their memories and mementos of Daisy.

They made a small shrine in their living room in Daisy's memory. Her picture hangs on a tree near the accident scene. When police returned Daisy's clothes to Marquez, he washed out the stains and put the garments in his bedroom because Daisy used to sleep in the same bed as her parents.

Last month, Daisy spent a week at camp - the first time she had been away from her parents. "She said she cried eight times a day, four times in the morning and four before she went to bed because she missed us so much," Marquez said.

At Guilford Elementary School, where Daisy would have been a third-grader this year, staff members and teachers remember Daisy as a happy child.

"She was the first one here every morning. ... And she had a smile for everyone," Principal Andrew Barshinger said.

Daisy gave crossing guard Wanda McDonald stuffed animals. "I still have them," said McDonald, who playfully called her "Daisy Duke." "She was a very sweet little girl. In the afternoons, I would wait for her to come [out of school] if she was a little late."

Daisy recently finished summer school, where she had worked her way up from picture books to more complicated texts such as The Babysitters' Club and horror tales by R.L. Stine. She had made so much progress that she decided she wanted to become a teacher, according to family members and teachers.

"She was excited about reading; she was excited about becoming a teacher," said Elizabeth Ansley, who taught Daisy during the summer.

Neighbors and members of Guilford Elementary's staff have rallied around the family, dropping off cards at the Marquez house and exchanging hugs. They also have taken up a collection to help defray funeral costs. Jose Marquez recently was laid off from a job building school playgrounds, and Teresa Marquez works for Product Support Inc., a Jessup manufacturing company.

Despite a steady stream of visitors and phone calls, the house feels empty to her father. "Having her changed my life. ... I just kept hoping she would pull through," he said.

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