A 14-year-old girl who was badly injured Saturday in an ATV crash in Clarence has died -- nearly three years after her 19-year-old sister was killed in a collision.
Mikaela Gwitt, a Depew High School student who sustained a serious brain injury in Saturday's crash, was taken off life support Wednesday in Women & Children's Hospital and died a few hours later, according to a family friend who did not want to be identified.
Mikaela was a passenger on a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle driven by a 15-year-old boy, who also was injured, though not as seriously.
Mikaela had a lot of friends and was a good person, according to the family friend.
"She was definitely struggling with the loss of her sister," the family friend said.
Mikaela's sister, Amanda L. Macaluso, died in a crash with a tractor-trailer on Dec. 8, 2014, on Three Rod Road in Marilla.
Chrissy Horbett Ratka, a family friend, said the girls' mother, Ann M. Potoczniak, and other family members are devastated.
"Who would have thought, three years later after losing one child, she was going to lose a second child to a tragic accident," Horbett Ratka said. "It's awful."
"We're just coming up on the anniversary of (Amanda's death)," Horbett Ratka added. "So (Mikaela) was just dealing with that and was finally getting to a place of being happy, having fun and doing things, going to the beach, going to the park this past summer."
Only a week ago, Mikaela, a freshman at Depew High School, attended her first homecoming dance. She also was a member of the school's Wildcats basketball team.
"That was her top priority. She loved basketball," said Horbett Ratka.
Mikaela also had set a career goal for herself: she planned to be a dermatologist after high school and college.
"For a freshman in high school who already knew what she wanted to do with her life, she had a future ahead of her," Horbett Ratka said.
Jeffrey R. Rabey, superintendent of the Depew Union Free School District, on Friday posted a letter on the district website.
"On Wednesday, October 25th one of our ninth grade students passed away as a result of an accident," Rabey stated in the letter. "We extend our condolences to her family. Our thoughts, prayers and support are with them.
"Our Crisis Response Team has met to prepare to help our students, faculty and staff deal with this loss. Our school counselors are available in case anyone is in need of assistance."
The Erie County Sheriff's Office said deputies were called just after 10 p.m. Saturday about the ATV accident, which occurred on a bike path between Gunnville Road and Wehrle Drive. The incident remains under investigation.
Horbett Ratka said Mikaela's mother, Ann, was unaware that her daughter was riding on an ATV when the accident happened. She said the family is hopeful that other young people and their families can be spared such a tragedy in the future by taking safety precautions.
"If one child can learn because of this tragedy, that's the best point out of this," Horbett Ratka said.
In addition to her mother Ann, Mikaela is survived by her father, Michael A. Gwitt; a brother, Nikolas; and her grandfather, Edward Potoczniak.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church, 950 Losson Road, Cheektowaga.
A GoFundMe account was set up to help the family with medical expenses, and it will now help cover funeral costs.
The GoFundMe account was named the Ann Potoczniak Fund, after the girls' mother. Potoczniak had a difficult time coping with the loss of Amanda.
"Ann has always been a very sweet and giving person," the family friend said.