Wednesday, September 20, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Courtney Wafstet, 16, packed life with action

Seattle Times staff reporter

Like most 16-year-olds, Courtney Wafstet wanted everything.

She wanted to be an archaeologist, to dig for long-lost civilizations. She took five dance classes at a time: ballet, hip-hop, tap. She liked the mysteries of space and even visited NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California last summer with her father. She belonged to two church youth groups. She designed Web pages. She crocheted.

Miss Wafstet died Thursday (Sept. 14) in an accident that her mother says will never make sense, even after the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office determines what to put on her death certificate.

Her mother, Cindi Wafstet, says she and her daughter shared everything. They watched "Roswell" and "Charmed" on TV, they learned to paint their hands and feet with henna designs, and they learned to design Web pages. Cindi Wafstet keeps a journal on her Web page.

"This is the first time I've been able to write since this horrible event started," Cindi Wafstet wrote in her journal Friday.

"What can you say when your child dies? To say we are devastated is a gross understatement. It feels so unreal, so unfair. My daughter should be alive."

Miss Wafstet's junior year at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo didn't start well. She was sent home with a fever the first day. She went to the doctor three times, and she was finally diagnosed with a bladder infection. She got a shot of antibiotics, then some pills, and she started to get better.

Last Wednesday, Miss Wafstet went back to school, back to her part-time job at Alpine Cleaners, back to dance class and back to homework. She went to bed at 9 p.m. She got up at 6 a.m. Thursday and stepped into the shower. Her father knocked on the bathroom door and said, "I love you. I'm going to work."

"Have a good day," Miss Wafstet said. "I'll see you tonight."

At 7:05 a.m., Cindi Wafstet realized her daughter had been in the shower too long. She opened the door. Her daughter had collapsed in the tub. Cindi Wafstet called for paramedics and tried CPR, but nothing could be done.

The medical examiner has performed an autopsy, but it will be several weeks until the official cause of death is determined.

At school, the door to her locker has been removed. A memorial is there now, with pictures of Miss Wafstet in dance uniforms, her hooded sweatshirt with a cross and Scriptures on the back, the granny-square afghan she crocheted, and letters and poems from her friends and her father.

Her funeral was held yesterday at Edmonds Church of God, where Miss Wafstet attended a youth group. At 7 p.m. today, a memorial service will be held at the Family Life Center in Mukilteo, where she attended a second youth group.

Her favorite song will probably be played at both ceremonies - "Smile," by the band Vitamin C. It is also her mother's favorite song. "Put a smile on your face," the chorus says. "Make the world a better place."

Michael Blake, one of Miss Wafstet's best friends, said she always wanted to help other teenagers with their problems. She'd listen to them talk about family conflicts, bad breakups and school. She prayed with them.

Miss Wafstet was once on the swimming team. She played the violin and the cello. She was in Campfire Girls for nine years. She loved science.

"She crammed more life into 16 years than I have in 50," her mother said. "She was just so analytical about things. She liked to classify things and organize them. She was never happy with the basic answer. She wanted details."

Miss Wafstet is also survived by her 19-year-old brother, Chris; her grandparents; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

Instead of flowers, the family is asking that people send donations to the Courtney Wafstet Memorial College Scholarship Fund at 1720 Washington Ave., Mukilteo, WA 98275.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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