Mother's moving tribute to tragic Sarah

LAST week Sarah Gaecke was celebrating her 15th birthday and looking forward to Christmas.Now, alongside the birthday and Christmas cards on the mantelpiece at her family's Ipswich home, a growing number of condolence cards written by grief-stricken friends and relatives are appearing.

THE mother of a 15-year-old girl killed in an horrific road crash just days before Christmas has spoken of the family's heartbreak.

Sarah Gaecke, who only celebrated her birthday last week, died after an accident on the A14 just outside Ipswich on Friday night.

Her devastated mother Vici , of Nacton Road, Ipswich, said: “Sarah was a joy. She had been through some rough times but the last few weeks she was at peace with her life. She was a lovely young woman.”

Sarah was a passenger in a car on the westbound carriageway, near the Orwell truck stop, when it was involved in a collision with another vehicle at about 7.40pm. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Holywells High School pupil had been on her way back to Ipswich after going with two friends to Felixstowe to put a friend's horse away for the night.

Mrs Gaecke, 36, said she heard the friends had been in an accident but went to Ipswich Hospital with the intention of picking her daughter up and bringing her home.

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She said: “I didn't even know she was hurt. I went up to the hospital and that's where they told me what had happened.”

Sarah was born at RAF Lakenheath, where her American father Chris Gaecke, 41, was based before being posted back to the US.

When she was three the family moved to California, where they lived for six years. They then moved to Arizona but Sarah's parents separated about six years ago, with her mother returning to Ipswich.

The music-loving teen stayed with her father and brother Aaron, 13, but regularly visited her mother in Ipswich and about a year ago made the decision to live here permanently.

Her father and Aaron both now plan to travel to Ipswich to attend her funeral and be with Sarah's family here.

Following his sister's death, Aaron said: “Sarah had her moments but she was the best big sister and I loved her and will always miss her.”

Mrs Gaecke said Sarah was a wonderful sister to her siblings; Aaron, 14-month-old sister Isabelle and five-year-old brother Jacob, who has severe physical disabilities, including cerebral palsy.

“Sarah adored all of them. She was fantastic with kids. She was a second carer to Jacob. Sarah managed to care for her brother and also have a social life.

“Because of Sarah there's a lot of people who now understand more about disabled children. She was very protective of Jake. She would defend him to the hilt.”

Sarah's death is the latest in a tragic month on Suffolk's roads, which has already claimed 13 lives.

n A 19-year-old man, also from the Ipswich area, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving following Friday's crash and has been released on police bail until the New Year.