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Students mourn missing classmate

Tim Willert

Heather Donovan and Alisa Belcourt were not sisters, but they might

as well have been.

Heather, 16, and Alisa, 15, met in the sixth grade at Luther


Burbank Middle School and soon became the best of friends.

“We had the same person- alities, the same sense of humor,”

Heather said. “We could talk to each other about anything.”

Heather was eagerly anticipating Alisa’s return from Seattle,


where she was visiting her father. The girls were looking forward to

their junior years at John Burroughs High School, and had planned to

accompany each other to registration this week.

But Thursday night, Heather got a phone call she didn’t expect and

still can’t believe. It was Alisa’s mother. There had been an

accident, and Alisa was missing.

“She had so much love to give ... she was such a big part of my

every day,” Heather recalled Monday. “I still can’t believe that I


will never talk to her again or see her again.”

Alisa, who would have turned 16 next month, is still missing and

presumed drowned following a white-water rafting mishap near

Leavenworth, Wash. She fell from an inflatable raft and disappeared

into the Wenatchee River during a family outing Aug. 13.

Word of Alisa’s disappearance shocked the Burroughs High community

and those closest to Alisa, an upbeat honor student and a member of

the junior varsity volleyball team.


“She was such a kind-hearted, inspirational person,” said Lachelle

Reeves, a classmate and close friend. “She always had a smile on her


On Monday, Burroughs High volleyball Coach Edwin Real broke the

news to about three dozen students, including members of the varsity

and junior varsity volleyball teams.

“It’s a great loss,” said Real, who coached Alisa last season.

“She was a very social kid and had a lot of friends. It was

devastating for a lot of kids.”

Burroughs Principal Emilio Urioste said counselors would be on

campus all week to help students manage their grief.

“Anytime there is a loss here at school, it’s felt very heavily,”

Urioste said. “It’s like losing a member of the family.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Chelan (Wash.) County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark

Mann said the search for Alisa’s body had been scaled back.

“The likelihood that her body is stuck somewhere on the bottom [of

the river] is fairly good from what we know about past recovery

efforts,” Mann said. “Most indications are that this is going to be a

long-term recovery effort.”

Meanwhile, those closest to Alisa struggle to accept the loss.

“She was always there for you when you needed it,” recalled Robert

Dargenzio, a Burroughs junior and one of Alisa’s close friends.

Said Lachelle: “It hasn’t set in yet. She’s a part of all of us.”