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Mother of Sisters HS student speaks after daughter, 2 others die in crash

(Update: Adding video, comments from mother)

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The mother of a Sisters High School student killed in a car crash last week said Wednesday she wants to keep her memory alive.

Sisters resident Wendy Vernon reached out to NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday and confirmed one of the students who died in last week's crash was her daughter, 17-year-old Lala Debari.

“This year, she wanted to be an elite dancer, an iconic hustler, a storyteller and writer and singer and friend, a traveler, and a high school graduate," Vernon said. "She will not get to do any of those things.”

Vernon said her daughter was forgiving of everyone, had a big heart and was passionate about social justice.

Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said Debari and a second 17-year-old girl, whose name has not been released, were killed last Thursday night when their SUV left a Forest Service road west of Sisters and struck a tree. 

The third occupant, identified as 18-year-old Amelie Locke from the Northern California city of Sebastopol, also was killed. 

“Lala and Amelie died within not even 15 minutes of leaving the house," Vernon said. "I heard the wreck.”

She said Locke had big dreams of her own, including moving to Milan, Italy, and working in sustainable fashion.

Vernon said Locke and Debari had been best friends since infancy and that Locke was visiting for two weeks.

“In the weeks before they died, we hiked, we thrifted, we cooked, and we danced," Vernon said.

She said Locke was working on her comprehensive distance learning from Credo High School in California, while Debari was doing the same at Sisters High School.

Vernon said Debari was planning to visit Locke and her family in California, so they could get used to being away for college.

“I think the most important things about both girls is that they would be the kindest friend, that they treated other people the way they would want to be treated," Vernon said.

Vernon said there will be a celebration of life for her daughter in the field across from Sisters Middle School on Friday, starting at 3 p.m.

People are encouraged to bring their own chairs and wear sturdy shoes. Vernon said masks and social distancing are required, and no refreshments will be served due to COVID-19.

Accidents and Crashes / Central Oregon / Sisters / Top Stories
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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.



  1. This story/video was not watchable on the 4 o’clock news. Not sure if the problem was on your end, or my end (Bendbroadband)? Just checking to see if others had problems and if it can be corrected before the other newscasts tonight.

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