HAZLE TOWNSHIP -- Seniors and faculty at Hazleton Area High School are mourning the sudden loss of a student who was set to graduate in just a few days.
Maintenance crews at Hazleton Area High School are getting campus ready for graduation. More than 700 seniors will accept their diplomas on Wednesday, but one chair will be empty, the chair for 18-year-old senior Kelly Flores.
"She would tell everybody how excited, how excited she was to graduate and go on with her life and start something," said Kelly's best friend Maria Montes.
Maria Montes was Kelly's best friend. She said Kelly suddenly became sick last Tuesday and ended up in the intensive care unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown.
After five days in a coma, Kelly died Sunday. Her friends have taken it hard.
"I mean anybody who even knows her story just got shocked because she's so young. She had so much going for her," said friend Jennifer Melendez.
The school's principal said Kelly won an award at school for her artwork last week. She was in the honor society and had plans to go to Penn State in the fall.
"She was so inspirational with all her drawings and creativity. She was such an artist," said friend Rornardo Flores.
Now Kelly's friends and Hazleton Area High School are fundraising for the Flores family. Friends said Kelly's parents can't afford to give Kelly a funeral, and they say they'd like to give Kelly a proper goodbye.
"Her parents were, is what motivated her to keep going," said Montes.
"This little girl should be walking up on our stage on Wednesday. I should be handing her a diploma. So now we have to pay as big an honor as we possibly can to her. She deserves that," said principal Rocco Petrone.
Graduation for Hazleton Area High School will take place Wednesday night at six. Something special is planned to honor Kelly Flores at graduation. If you'd like to donate or help her friends, you can contact Hazleton Area High School.