AURORA, Colo. -- There are heavy hearts at Aurora Hills Middle School this week after students came back from winter break to find out one of their teachers had died.
According to Aurora Public Schools, Spanish teacher Wendy Welch was killed in a car accident while visiting Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Welch's students say she had an impact on a lot of people.
“For her to be gone is really heartbreaking to me,” former student Zanovia Paris said.
Former students describe Welch as happy, fun, inspiring and fascinating.
Even after you left her classroom, Welch assured you she wasn't far.
“She was always there for us and told us, even after you go into high school, I’m still here to talk,” former student Katharine Hopkins said.
“We are deeply saddened to inform our community that one of our teachers, Wendy Welch, died in a car accident over winter break," the district said in a statement.
"Our thoughts are with Ms. Welch’s family during this difficult time. We have offered condolences and support to her family on behalf of the APS community. We have had and will continue to have counselors available at the school for those who may need support.”
The district let parents know of Welch's death in an audio message left by principal Marcella Garcia.
A GoFundMe page said the accident happened on New Year’s Eve and proceeds raised would “help alleviate the cost of funeral services and bringing her back home.”
As of Tuesday morning, more than $9,000 had been raised. A statement on the page notes any extra money collected by the family will be donated to a charity close to Welch’s heart, Rainbow Sandals.
Services have not been set.