Elizabeth Gould was doing something many a teenager has done late at night -- sneaking out of the house. Gould paid dearly for it, with her life.

Hopeful that her parents wouldn't hear her leaving their spacious Great Falls home Wednesday night, the 16-year-old Langley High School student rolled one of her family's cars out of their garage, according to Fairfax County police, without turning on the ignition.

But as the 1995 Nissan Sentra began to roll backward down a slight incline, and before Gould could hop into the driver's seat, she was pinned face-down between the open driver's side door and a split-rail fence that runs along the side of the family property.

Police said the 11:30 p.m. crash woke Gould's parents, who called 911. Their daughter was taken to Fairfax Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The exact cause of her death still is under investigation, police said.

News of the accident has rocked the affluent Great Falls community where Geoffrey and Paula Gould recently had moved from Texas with Elizabeth and her two younger sisters. Neighbors on Gouldman Lane, which has no connection with the family's surname, said that about six months ago, the family moved into the house, a brick colonial with a circular drive and a pool. It is one of a dozen or so large houses along a quiet lane.

Geoffrey C. Gould, 43, a vice president with GTE Corp., heads the telecommunication company's Washington office.

Yesterday, as word of the tragedy spread through the community, one mother, who asked not be identified as she stood at a Great Falls area shopping center with her 19-year-old son, said, "What can you do? I'd tell my son, You're not going {out tonight},' and he'd go anyway. I went from wanting him to win the Nobel Prize to just wanting him to survive."

Linda Flickinger, president of the Langley High School Parent Network, said parents are naive if they think their children are above sneaking out of the house.

"It's starting at younger and younger ages than before. Many parents think, It's not happening in my house,' and, of course, it could be," Flickinger said.

Psychologist Ronald S. Federici, of Fairfax, who works with youngsters in Northern Virginia, said, "When our kids have trouble accepting the word no' in the daytime, you can almost expect that they'll have trouble excepting the word no' at night when it comes to their curfew."

Because Gould was a new student at Langley this year, she was not well known there, according to administrators, who said yesterday they would have no further comment.

A school secretary said the principal was out of town and referred calls to Gould's parents, who declined to speak to a reporter.

Students at Langley who did know Gould, a junior, said yesterday they were shocked by her death. They said she was "quiet" and "nice." The school provided crisis counseling yesterday for some of the girl's classmates.

Mike Schultz, 16, who was in Gould's American Studies class, called her death bewildering and said he was puzzled by her actions.

Police say they have no idea where Gould was headed at the time of her accident.

Before moving to Virginia, Gould attended Carroll High School in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where friends said she was an "excellent student" and a "bookworm" who was into drama and swam on the neighborhood swim team.

Pam Pearson, of Southlake, Tex., was a neighbor for about six years, and the teenager sometimes baby-sat for Pearson's daughter.

"She was very well mannered and into a lot of activities," said Pearson, who recalled that Gould loved animals and had several dogs. "She was always quiet and so polite, a real calm young lady."

According to Flickinger, the subject of sneaking out of the house came up among Langley parents about a year ago, when graffiti was showing up on school grounds and obviously was being done by students at night.

The problem was discussed then "mostly in the context that parents need to be aware this is going on and have some conversations with their kids," Flickinger said.

Parents have been at a loss for suggestions of how to stop it, short of arming the household alarm system, she said. The answer, Federici said, is saying no and meaning it. Metro resource director Margot Williams contributed to this report.