Community comes together for fatally injured teen


Published: Monday, May 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 30, 2006 at 11:30 p.m.
Her friends call her a "good country girl" who loved hunting, fishing and the music of country singer Tim McGraw.
A home schooled student who also took classes at Santa Fe Community College to become a dental hygienist, Danielle Giesler would've graduated with her high school diploma at the end of the month.
But doctors pronounced the 17-year-old brain dead Sunday, two days after her pickup truck slammed into a dump truck head-on to avoid hitting a turning car, according to her family and the Florida Highway Patrol. Machines kept Danielle alive Sunday until doctors scheduled a surgery to remove her organs for donation, said her mother, Connie Giesler.
The grim news came just a day after community members showed an outpouring of support for the teen who needed about 50 units of blood. She suffered massive brain damage as a result of the accident, her mom told The Sun.
About 1,400 people donated blood to the LifeSouth Community Blood Center on Newberry Road in Danielle's name after family and friends made calls seeking the desperately needed donations, Connie Giesler said. People young and old, strangers and friends from as far as Jacksonville and Tallahassee donated in her daughter's name, she said.
"Everyone called everyone they knew," Connie Giesler said by phone from her daughter's bedside at Shands at the University of Florida. "Some girls her age who had never given blood before and were scared, but they did it for her sake."
The teen had just left her boyfriend's house after classes at SFCC on Friday when another driver turned in front of her pickup, causing her to veer to avoid a collision. Danielle lost control of her pickup and collided into a dump truck, becoming trapped in the pickup until firefighters cut the roof and driver's side door off to rescue her, troopers reported.
No one else was injured in the accident. Although her family is devastated, Connie Giesler said she is comforted at the show of love by friends and strangers to try to save her daughter's life. She also takes comfort, she said, in her daughter's faith in God. The family is active at the Countryside Baptist Church in Gainesville where Danielle participated in youth group and Sunday school classes.
"She loved the Lord," her mother said. "You never know when you'll go. Things happen and I know God has a plan for her."
Connie Giesler said that funeral and memorial services will likely be held later in the week for Danielle.
Rebekah Riley, 21, said that Danielle was her best friend. Mature beyond her years, Danielle was the type of person that made others feel happy, she said.
"You can't put into words how much she's loved," Riley said.
Riley said that it was fitting that Danielle's organs will save someone else's life and that her family will get to meet those who receive their daughter's "gift."
"She's going to live on forever and she's going to help other people live," Riley said. "She's going to be an angel, watching over all of us. She's irreplaceable."
Deborah Ball can be reached at (352) 338-3109 or balld@gvillesun.com.

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