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Columbia Falls students mourning after girl succumbs to cancer

By Scott Zoltan, KECI Reporter, szoltan@keci.com
Published On: Dec 11 2012 01:49:41 PM MST
Updated On: Dec 11 2012 10:37:33 PM MST
COLUMBIA FALLS, Mont. -

On Tuesday, students at Columbia Falls High School were in a state of shock, as news spread that 17-year old Taylor Peterson had passed away. Peterson passed away on Monday, after a battle with jawbone cancer.

NBC Montana spoke with several people at Laurie’s Deli in Columbia Falls who knew Taylor Peterson. The deli is a hotspot for students on their lunch-break, and the mood on Tuesday was a somber one.

 “[She was} one of my favorite lunch customers,” said owner Laurie Panasuk.  “I could count on her about four days a week when she was home.”

Laurie went to visit Taylor in the hospital, and she was there when organizers raised more than $50,000 for a trip to Hawaii for Taylor as a last wish. Unfortunately, Taylor was not able to take that trip.

‘I think people are so unbelievably shocked that she went so quickly,” said Panasuk.

NBC Montana also spoke with student Alex Presnell. Presnell said he was shy when he first moved to Columbia Falls, and Taylor reached out to him.  Nothing could prepare him for hearing her prognosis.

“It was devastating, when you’re at such a young age, it’s just the last thing you want to hear.”

Presnell added that Peterson meant so much to him and everyone else in the community.

NBC Montana also caught up with Catie King, a friend who was planning on going to Hawaii with her.

“She really cared about other people and she was really funny, fun, crazy, outgoing,” said King.

Some of the money raised at the benefit earlier this month will go to funeral costs. Folks are also considering a scholarship fund in her name.