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Laura Piasecki, 19 -- Car Accident

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NORTH ANDOVER — A 19-year-old North Andover High graduate and Merrimack College sophomore was killed early yesterday morning in a car crash on Winter Street in North Andover.

Laura Piasecki, of 77 Bridges Lane, was pronounced dead at the scene, said North Andover Police spokesman Lt. Paul J. Gallagher.

Police are investigating the cause of what Gallagher said was a one-car crash that happened at 3:13 a.m. at the 400 block of Winter Street, near Piasecki's parents' house. She was alone in the vehicle, but Gallagher said he had no more information about the crash.

"We're still in the early stages of the investigation," said North Andover police Chief Richard Stanley. "We're not going to speculate about where she was, what she was doing or how fast she was traveling."

Yesterday afternoon, about 20 young people gathered at the sharp curve in the wooded, winding road where Piasecki's car apparently crashed into two trees. They placed flowers and a small American flag around one of the trees, where the bark was ripped away and the wood was etched with black marks.

A girl cried as she talked on a cell phone. Some spoke in hushed voices; some sat in silence along a stone wall.

Piasecki's parents, Janice and Philip, said they did not want to talk to a reporter.

Friends described Piasecki as a lively, funny girl who made close friends everywhere she went.

She would adopt words like "unreal" or "typical" and soon everyone was saying them, said Carly Dignam, 20, who said she had known Piasecki since she was 6.

Piasecki seemed to know everyone she met in town and on her college campus, her friends said.

In North Andover, she was a favorite of her friends' younger siblings and the children she taught in swimming lessons and gymnastics classes.

"She would walk into a room and make it light up," Dignam said.

In her senior year of high school, Piasecki wrote all the lyrics to a song from "Grease" on her hands and note cards so she wouldn't forget them when she had to sing at a pep rally.

"Every funny thing that happened in my life, at least in high school, she was with me," said Skylar Griggs, 20, another childhood friend.

Piasecki was an honor roll student at North Andover High, where she graduated in 2004. She volunteered at the Gymnastics Factory in North Andover and spent summers working at the Brooks School summer camp, where she had been a camper as a child.

"You never saw her pouting or down," Brooks School Summer Programs Director Bobbie Crump-Burbank said. "She would work long hours. She was always willing to help."

At Merrimack College, where she lived on campus, Piasecki was considering biology as a major. But she ultimately wanted to become a teacher, a profession for which her friends said she would have had a gift.

Crump-Burbank said Piasecki was the second of the 115-member Brooks summer camp staff to die this year.



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