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Classmates, Teachers Remember 15-Year-Old Puerto Rico Plane Crash Victim Molly Wrede As An Athlete With An Easy Smile

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Molly Wrede, 15, died after the plane she was in crashed near a crowded beach in Piñones, Puerto Rico on Saturday afternoon.
ATLANTA — Ironically, the school Molly Wrede went to was located on Ponce de León Avenue.

And one of the major cities in Puerto Rico where she died on Saturday afternoon has a city named after the famous Spanish explorer and conquistador Juan Ponce de León.

Wrede had been a part of The Paideia School community for most of her life. Her older sister also attends the same exclusive Atlanta private school, and each of Wrede’s parents work at the school.

On Monday, the same close-knit community was mourning the death of Molly, who died in a plane crash while visiting Puerto Rico with her best friend Casey Ellyson. Molly recently completed ninth grade, according to the school’s headmaster. She was only 15 years old.

“She was a sweet, caring young woman, and I will always remember her smile,” teacher Eddy Hernandez told a television station in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Hernandez, who taught Molly in French, said she loved to sing and dance. She also wore No. 7 for the junior varsity volleyball team and ran track at the school, located on Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Wrede’s best friend, Casey Ellyson a Paideia sophomore, was also injured in the crash, along with her father, Scott, authorities said.

The plane’s pilot, Jose Diaz, 22, of Puerto Rico also was also injured when the Air America plane crashed off the coast of Piñones, east of San Juan. It had just taken off from the capital’s international airport on a flight to Culebra island.

The three survivors were rescued by people who were swimming or sunbathing on a nearby beach and went to the crash site in kayaks. The crash remains under investigation.

Two other members of the Ellyson family were in a separate plane and were not injured.

Classmates, teachers and friends gathered at Wrede’s former private school called Paideia on Sunday after learning of Molly’s death. Funeral arrangements were pending late Monday.

According to the school’s website, tuition for high school students at Paideia costs between $23,214 to $23,463 per year.

The Paideia School is an independent school located at 1509 Ponce De Leon Avenue NorthEast in downtown Atlanta. It enrolls children ages three through 18.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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