Katherine Morales of Manassas killed during Irene

(AP, ABC7) A 15-year-old Virginia girl died Saturday afternoon in North Carolina after the SUV carrying her and family members collided with another SUV at an intersection where Irene had knocked out power to traffic lights.

Katherine Morales was one of four family members thrown from the vehicle. The family was returning to northern Virginia from Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Morales’ step-father Jorge Lopez held his 1-year-old daughter Brianna tight Monday at the family’s Manassas home.

“She would say, 'stay strong and you can get through it, and I'll always be in your heart,’” Lopez said. “She was just amazing.”

“She was so sweet. No matter what happened to her, she was still so happy. She was the best friend anybody could ever have,” friend Jordan Cox said.

Manassas Park high school, where Morales was to start her sophomore year next week, mourning the student’s death. Friends have set up Facebook pages in her memory.

“This young lady touched a lot of lives--she really did. And that's one of the things that people are coming to grips with that she's no longer with us,” Principal Eric Doyle said.

She played soccer as a goalie, played basketball and ran track. She also sang alto in the school choir.

“She just had a way of lighting up a room when she came into it. She was full of joy,” choir director Kristina Schenck said.

On Saturday night, the community will hold a candlelight vigil at cougar football stadium.