The body of a Skyline High School sophomore missing since a tsunami devastated south Asia nine days ago has been found by her family.
A picture of Kali Breisch was among those posted outside a morgue in Thailand showing the faces of the bodies inside and was recognized by her older sister, Shonti.
Shonti and her father, Stuart Breisch, had spent five days scouring the country's beachside but stopped the search to be with Kali's brother Jai, 16, who is recovering in Bangkok after suffering a deep cut on his leg and a separated shoulder.
When Kali's family discovered her photo, it was a touching moment captured by a camera crew from ABC's "Good Morning America."
The family was vacationing in Thailand when the gigantic wave hit Dec. 26. Kali, 15, and Jai were in a bungalow on the beach that was knocked down by a huge wave, throwing Jai against a tree.
In Salt Lake County on Monday morning, school leaders say they could have heard a pin drop when fellow students learned Kali's body had been found.
After Principal Kathy Clark made the announcement, students viewed a recorded segment of Monday's "Good Morning America," which happened to be following the Breisch family in the wake of the disaster.
The video showed 18-year-old Shonti, who was wearing a mask to help disguise the smell of decay, seeing her sister's picture and shouting to her father: "Dad, Dad, this is her, this is her shirt, the one that she bought."
It was a halter top, a Christmas present. For minutes, the family held each other and cried.
"This is my sister . . . ," Shonti said, "but we were just still hoping."
Some Skyline students were tearful and quiet. But for some watching the emotional clip, it brought welcomed closure.
"I think some of them felt that they were actually there when she found her sister, and that hit hard," said Ike Spencer, assistant principal.
"It's always hard losing a friend. Of course, we have several kids crying," said John Johansen, student body president. "It was an emotional video, but it really helped with closure. Throughout the weekend we've all been wondering what's going to happen. It's sad, but it is kind of nice to put an end to it."
Clark said the school had counselors on hand to help students who were struggling, but teachers felt they could handle the emotions within their classes.
"When you are sitting in a class and there is an empty desk and everybody knows why the desk is empty, it's not something where you just hold a regular class," Clark said.
Kali is the fourth student the school has lost within the past year, but Clark said students at Skyline have found ways to make something positive out of bad situations.
For Kali, the student body decided to sell blue Skyline Eagle wristbands and will be sending the money to an aid foundation set up by her father, Stuart, to help tsunami victims. By noon Monday, more than $1,000 had been raised, and community members even visited the school with donations.
Students also created a memorial at her locker with Kali's picture, notes and letters. And today, students will hang 1,000 paper cranes at her locker as a token of healing and peace.
Stuart Breisch and Shonti had spent five days combing the country's beaches before breaking off the search to be with Jai in Bangkok.
The family was staying at the Thailand resort area of Khao Lak when the tsunami hit the day after Christmas. Kali and Jai were in a bungalow that was knocked down by a huge wave. Jai was carried nearly half a mile.
Stuart and his fiance, Sally Nelson of San Diego, and Shonti were on a dive boat at the time and escaped injury.
As of Monday, the Breisch family was in the process of making flight arrangements for their return trip. However, the date has not been confirmed.Comment on this story
"It's very hard to be here, and yet this was the last place I saw her," Stuart Breisch said during the "Good Morning America" interview. "I have memories of her we had a really good time here before this happened."Those wanting to donate to Kali's foundation can visit www.4kali.org.