By Theresa Vargas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
If Shelby Huck had lived, this is what her year might have looked like: a 16th birthday next month planned with teenage tenacity, standing as a bridesmaid in her stepsister's July wedding, possibly making the track team, or at least knowing she tried.
The 15-year-old Hamilton sophomore, not old enough to have a license, died yesterday after the car she was driving hit an embankment during a high-speed chase with a Loudoun sheriff's deputy.
The deputy, radar in hand, was monitoring traffic near Oakhill Farm Road about 4 a.m. when he saw Shelby in a 2006 Volkswagen Jetta speeding northbound on Route 15, officials said.
She was driving "well in excess of the posted speed of 55 miles per hour," said Loudoun sheriff's office spokesman Kraig Troxell, declining to say how fast Shelby was going. "When he attempted to catch up to her, that's when she actually sped up and went even faster."
As the Volkswagen rounded a curve, it swerved into an embankment, hitting several trees before becoming airborne and stopping in a field. Shelby was thrown from the car and airlifted to Inova Fairfax Hospital, authorities said.
She died just before 1 p.m.
The teenager's family grappled with the loss of a girl who had just spent the weekend at her dad's Leesburg home planning her Feb. 27 birthday party. Where to have it, whom to invite, she decided amid giggles with her 16-year-old stepsister, Alyssa, with whom she shared a friendship and an upstairs bedroom.
"When she was over here with us, she was bubbly; she loved to laugh," said Shelby's stepmother, Linda Huck. "She and Alyssa got into all kinds of stuff. When they were here for the weekend, all you heard was laughter upstairs."
Shelby spent about every other weekend at her father's house but lived during the week with her mother, Julie Young, in Hamilton. She attended Loudoun Valley High School, where she was a varsity cheerleader and looked forward to trying out for track this semester.
"She was a good runner," Linda Huck said.
She remembered how Shelby loved pets, keeping three dogs at her mom's house and a cat and dog at her dad's. The teenager was also active with the Cornerstone Chapel youth group, attending a beach outing last summer with the group at Assateague Island in Maryland.
"When she went on that beach trip, she had a wonderful time, and she really dedicated her life to the Lord," Huck said.
The sheriff's office is investigating the incident, looking into whether the car was a birthday present and why the teenager was out so late. "She was probably going home; the question is where she had been," Troxell said. "All fatal accidents are tragic, but it's a little harder when you see someone who's so young lose their life."
School officials told the cheerleading team yesterday about Shelby's death and will have six counselors and two additional social workers on hand today, district spokesman Wayde Byard said.
Shelby's father, Dirk Huck, said the family also has many questions -- ones he never had a chance to ask his daughter.
"She didn't wake up from the accident," Huck said, taking long pauses between sentences.
"She was just a sweet kid."