ROLESVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Saturday, friends of 17-year-old Ashlee Llagostera honor her by creating a memorial at the site of the accident and remembering her as the one person who could always cheer them up.
"She is just a person that needs to be remembered," Emma Burton, one of Llagostera's friends.
Her friends placed photos, flowers and letters along the side of U.S. 401. As they continue to process the enormous loss and hope they can keep Llagostera's spirit alive not only at the memorial but within themselves every day.
"She was a big Star Wars fan so any time she would talk about leaving she's like, 'The force will always be there. So I'm always there,'" remembered Shayna Holden, one of Llagostera's friends.
"She always had a smile on her face and never failed to make anyone else smile," said Burton.
Llagostera was killed early Friday morning during a hit-and-run on U.S. 401. State Troopers said she was walking on the paved shoulder of U.S. 401 around 1:30 a.m.
The news of her death shocked those who knew her best.
"It's kind of hard because I lost this big part of me and it feels like I can't do anything about it," said her friend Catherine Jones. "She has impacted all of us in the best way possible."
Llagostera's friends describe her as a unique and strong individual with a free spirit that instantly bonded her to others. The Rolesville High School junior is missed most for her ability to make her friends feel better; a quality her friends especially miss now.
"If she was here, she probably would pat me on the back and say, 'It is all OK. There's no reason to cry,'" said Anthony Risteff, a Rolesville High School freshman.
"She would tell me to snap out of it and just be happy but it's hard to be happy when you don't have your happiness with you," said Jones, echoing a similar sentiment.
On Friday, the Rolesville High School principal sent a message to parents and students announcing the tragic death.
"Ashlee has been part of the Rolesville community for several years and will be missed by the students and staff here, our hearts go out to Ashlee's friends and family," Principal Dhedra Lassiter wrote in an email.
The school will have additional support on campus on Monday to help students and staff process the news.
"To be sure, these are heavy moments that we will work through together. We appreciate the unending love and support that the Rolesville High School family and community have provided to us over the years. In the spirit of honoring Ashlee, please keep Ashlee's family in your thoughts and prayers," Lassiter wrote to parents.
State Troopers said they didn't get to the scene until around six hours after Llagostera was hit. Troopers said they later learned the driver was involved in a separate crash in the same area near where the teen was hit.
Wendel Romual Ramirez-Silva, 27, of Raleigh was arrested on Friday. Ramirez-Silva is charged with aggravated felony death by vehicle, felony hit and run, reckless driving, and driving while license revoked impaired revocation. Wake County jail records show Ramirez-Silva was also arrested in 2019 and charged for driving while impaired.