GIG HARBOR, Wash. -- A high school homecoming is happening without one of the students at Peninsula High School.
Sixteen-year-old Kyle Stillion, a junior at Peninsula High School, died in a tragic accident Thursday evening near Gig Harbor.
Police say just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Stillion was struck by a car while he was walking along Key Peninsula Road just north of Olson Drive.
Pierce County Sheriff’s Detective Ed Troyer says the 61-year-old woman driving the car drifted onto the narrow shoulder of the road, hitting the teen. Troyer says there is no evidence the woman was intoxicated at the time.
The accident has left Peninsula High School staff and students in shock.
As the band plays and the cheerleaders cheer, a high school homecoming game usually showcases the students rallying for the football players on the field, but at Peninsula High, Friday night's homecoming game was about rallying for a fellow classmate whose life was cut short.
“We’re blacking out the school in honor of Kyle,” said Sam Smith, who added that Stillion was one of his best friends.
Students dressed in black mourning Stillion on Friday night at the football game. Smith says he didn’t want to believe the news when he found out about Stillion’s death.
“I texted him, hoping he would say it was a misunderstanding and it was some other kid,” said Smith.
Smith added that they’ve been buddies since the sixth grade and that Stillion was well liked by everyone.
“He was probably one of my most social friends. He was one of those kids that everyone loved, everyone wanted to be around him because he was so funny,” said Smith.
PHS Principal Dave Goodwin says Stillion had friends in all social groups and his passing has brought the student body closer together.
“Even kids that didn’t know him, they really felt the grief of other students. It’s one of the things that impressed me today was kids rallying around each other at school all day. They were hugging each other. I heard them say nicest things,” said Goodwin.
Friday night football for PHS had a somber undertone.
“It hurts right down to where it should never hurt. It’s going to be a celebration of life rather than a homecoming dance,” said Smith.
He added that students plan to leave corsages and boutonnieres outside the gymnasium in honor of Stillion after the homecoming dance Saturday night.
A celebration of life and a sad lesson for some.
“Mortality is something you hope young people don’t have to deal with, but it’s a part of life and they’re dealing with it in a great way,” said Goodwin.
Smith says his best friend may not be with him this year, but he’ll be honoring his life, every day of his.
“I’m going to live life to the fullest. I just want my life to be lived in honor of Kyle because he didn’t get to see the world, I want to show it to him,” said Smith.
Students have set up a GoFundMe page for Stillion. The funds gathered will be used for funeral expenses.