The little desk where Amira Andrade sat at Driftwood Elementary School in Hollywood was empty Friday.
Instead, a school crisis response team –– made up of a psychologist, social workers, and a guidance counselor –– was in Amira’s school to talk to the 6-year-old’s friends.
As the school day ended, Principal Gladys Donovan walked amid jumpy children playing. Earlier she talked to the psychologist to see how the children were faring after hearing about their classmate who was found dead Thursday inside a blue van. Amira’s distraught first-grade teacher met with a grief counselor.
“It’s a horrible tragedy,” Donovan said.
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Two teenage girls on their way to school early Thursday spotted the suspicious looking van and called neighbors for help, said Davie Police Capt. Dale Engle.
Police said Paul Andrade, who had visitation rights with Amira on Wednesday, left his Hollywood apartment sometime during the night, drove the van to his ex-wife’s place in Davie, hooked up a hose to the van, taped the windows shut and died along with his daughter and the family dog.The child was wearing pink pajamas when her mother found her.
Police said they suspect the three died of carbon monoxide poisoning, though the Broward County Medical Examiner will make an official determination.
Investigators said Andrade, 30, was upset that his ex-wife, Vicky Paredes, had remarried less than a year after their divorce. A suicide note was found at his home, but police did not reveal its contents.
Andrade’s family, who flew in from New Jersey to reclaim his body, were outside his Hollywood apartment on the 5700 block of Taft Street Friday. The white ice cream truck that he sometimes drove, was still there. And near it, an empty black dog crate, a red water bowl and a chewed bone.
Outside of Paredes’ Davie home, in the 3700 block of Northwest 74th Avenue, a few toys, pink carnations and a wrapped dog bone were next to a white candle with an image of a Virgin Mary.
Paredes had not returned home Friday to see the small make-shift memorial. Rescue workers transported her to a local hospital Thursday, after her daughter’s body was discovered. She remained under sedation until late into the evening Thursday.
Neighbors said they heard Paredes shouting at officers Thursday: “You don’t understand. She is my little girl. She is my only child.”
The words were still haunting neighbor Loida Leon Friday.
“We hope that she is doing better,” Leon said in Spanish. “But really there is no way that any one can recover from something like that.”
Meanwhile at Driftwood Elementary School, Donovan said she hopes that the weekend will help Amira’s teacher and students cope with the loss.