Sheila Stogsdill

Special to the Grove Sun

WYANDOTTE - Alyssa Avila charmed everyone she knew during her short life, a family member said Saturday.

"She was the baby of the family and a bundle of joy," said Robert Cole, her cousin.

The nine-year-old died Thursday after falling from a piece of teeter-totter-like playground equipment at the Wyandotte Elementary School playground. Funeral services have not been finalized.

Her family moved six years ago from California to Wyandotte, which is located in eastern Ottawa County, so they could be near relatives, Cole said.

Alyssa lived with her mother and stepfather, Cathy and Ken Blair, and teenage sister, Kaylee, within a quarter-mile of her grandparents.

"They are a close family," Cole said. "Ken thought of her as one of his own children, and Cathy is doing as well as can be expected."

Her father, Ron Avila, and four sisters, Michelle, Kimberly, Jennifer and Shawna, live in California, and a brother, Josh, is in the military and stationed in Japan.

"She was a very special and important person," Michelle Avila said. "I miss her and love her with all my heart. We are all very crushed."

Alyssa's olive skin was evidence of her Cherokee and Portuguese bloodlines, Cole said, and the precocious, brown-haired beauty was a joy to be around.

"Alyssa never missed a day of school since kindergarten," Cole said. "She loved school."

He described the fourth-grader as a tomboy who loved dolls, her three dogs and four cats, and stuffed animals.

"Most of all she liked to run," Cole said.

Alyssa and other students were playing on a new piece of playground equipment called an "X-wave" when she was fatally injured. The three-piece apparatus is joined by hinges and moves up and down.

It has since been secured, and Wyandotte Superintendent Troy Gray said earlier it will never be used again.

"I want that piece of equipment banned from every school playground and park," Cole said.

Cole said he was told that Alyssa was sitting where two pieces connect and when that section was in the air, she fell off. When she stood up to get back on the equipment, she was hit in the head as that section was coming down, knocking her to the ground, he said.

Police and medical personnel said there were no physical signs of trauma, and when medical personnel arrived at the school, Alyssa was in cardiac arrest and CPR was being performed.

Completion of a medical examiner's report might take several weeks, said Cherokee Ballard, state Medical Examiner's Office spokeswoman.

The school had just purchased the playground equipment. A preliminary investigation showed no defects and that the equipment was functioning properly, police said.

The company is expected to send a representative to Wyandotte, school officials said earlier.

If you want to donate

A fund has been set up to help with funeral expenses for Alyssa Avila.

Donations may be made to the Bank of Wyandotte, 2 E. Broadway St., Wyandotte, OK 74370