Last year, Mariah Arguello walked the halls of West Las Vegas High School, a senior admired and loved by classmates, teachers and staff.
While returning to Las Vegas Tuesday evening, she was killed by a man driving down Interstate 25 in the wrong direction.
On Wednesday, people are remembering Arguello as a bubbly cheerleader and a good student.
West Principal Gene Parson said, “Mariah graduated last year. She was full of energy, full of life, and always had a big smile on her face. She was just a pleasant girl to be around.”
Parson said he and his office staff got to know Mariah in a up-close and personal way when she worked as an office aide.
“When we asked her to run an errand, she would go and come back quickly. On her return, she always had a big smiley face and would say, ‘It’s done.’ She was a cheerleader, but chose not to cheer last year because she took a job to save for college. However, you could tell she missed it, but somehow she was content with her decisions. She was always pleasant and kind to others,” Parson said.
Parson said he saw Arguello at Christmas, and she told him about her hopes.
“Again, another tragedy, another travesty that shouldn’t have happened because of someone making the stupid choice to drink and drive. There are plenty of avenues for someone who is going to drink, stay at home, ask for a ride. It’s just so insane to think we are here again,” Parson said.
Parson said in a meeting with Mariah’s mother, she said her daughter was almost home.
“It’s so fresh and so painful for the family, her mother was crying as she said, ‘She was almost home, she was right here.’” Parson said.
Parson said any student or staff member who needed grief counseling would be taken care of. He said a memorial service would be held, according to family wishes.
Teacher Steve Gallegos was the ski club sponsor and said Arguello had told him many times that hitting the slopes included some of her most memorable moments.
“She said she was going to miss high school a lot, but was going on to bigger and better things,” Gallegos said. “She was an A-B student, a cheerleader, everything you could want your student to be.”
Friend Leandra Garcia said in their younger years, the two played baseball together on the all-girl team.
“We became good friends, and her mom and my mom became friends too. We are going to miss her,” Garcia said.
Front office secretary Noel Quintana said she got to know Arguello when she worked as an office aide.
“She was a beautiful little girl. She was always a big help, and we really got along well,” Quintana said.
Choir director Arnell David Arellanes said Arguello had been in choir since the eighth grade.
“She was in middle school choir, then moved up to the high school symphonic choir, and then to the honors choir. We spoke many times about life choices. I taught a class about life’s lessons, and things teenagers face in life. She was one of the most respectful students that I had,” Arellanes said.
Arellanes said Arguello is the fourth student he has lost since he’s been at West — two of them by drunken drivers.