Friends, Classmates Mourn Poway Child Killed in Hiking Accident

Zahra Allahyari, 8, of Poway, loved looking for rocks in the school playground, her friend told NBC 7

Friends and classmates will remember a Poway girl who died in a tragic accident while hiking in Yellowstone National Park Sunday, school officials said.

Zahra Allahyari stepped off a trail, lost her footing, and fell about 550 feet into a canyon.

Fourth grader Kirsten Newkirk met the sister she never had in Zahra when they both attended Kindergarten at Pomerado Elementary School.

“We had so much in common. She was really nice to me,” Newkirk said Monday wiping away tears.

From posting for pictures during lunch to preparing for their futures, she said the two girls liked to be partners while they studied.

Zahra's life came to an early end Sunday morning as the 8-year-old was hiking along a trail to the Brink of the Lower Falls at Yellowstone with her family.

“She was a really good friend and I really miss her,” said Newkirk.

“We’re like family at Pomerado,” said PTA member Julie Clemmons who knew Zahra. “It’s going to hit hard for sure.”

Zahra was supposed to start fourth grade Wednesday.

That's when Newkirk was going to surprise her with a present, a bookmark she had brought back from South Korea.

“She likes dragons so I was saving it for her so I could give it to her on the first day of school,” the child explained.

Kirsten Newkirk, 9, of Poway remembers her best friend Zahra who died while hiking with her family in Yellowstone National Park.

Instead she is now dealing with an early lesson on the fragility of life and how she'll use the gift to help memorialize her friend.

“I'll just keep it with me or leave it at school where she sat,” she said.

School administrators were contacting families by phone and email to tell them that counselors will be available for students, staff and families through the week and beyond if they need them

On Tuesday, the Poway Unified Board of Education will also have a moment of silence in Zahra's memory at their meeting Tuesday night.

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