ARLINGTON -- If a picture really is worth a thousand words, then Rita Romaker would gladly trade any number of photos of her daughter Tabatha for just a few words.
"What I wouldn't give to have those few precious seconds back," Romaker said.
Tabatha Romaker, 17, died early Sunday just hours after the car her boyfriend was driving hydroplaned on rain-slickened I-20 in Arlington near Collins Street.
"She was on a date, 9:30 at night, coming home from Olive Garden," Romaker said.
According to Arlington Police, the car Romaker was the passenger in stopped in the inside lane of eastbound I-20 facing sideways. A vehicle traveling in the left lane then struck the car from the side.
Tabatha's boyfriend Frankie Santo, 17, suffered severe facial injuries and faces a lengthy recovery, according to her family. They said Sunday they appreciate the outpouring of support for their daughter and are praying for Santo now too.
"No 17-year old boy should have to feel guilty about an accident," Romaker said. "Because that's what it was, just a horrible accident."
The pair are both seniors at L.D. Bell High School in Hurst. Tabatha Romaker excelled in a capella singing and was named president of the choir for her senior year.
Nikki Dalby says her younger sister loved to volunteer at a nearby animal shelter and hoped to become a nurse practitioner after college. Romaker tweeted her enthusiasm about her impending next phase of life on Friday, holding up her acceptance letter to Texas Women's University in Denton.
Senior portraits in her graduation gown had just come in, a prom dress had just been purchased. Her mother says graduation invitations will arrive in the next few weeks.
"Hug your children a little tighter because yesterday was a normal day," Romaker said. "Nothing out of the ordinary and then, it ended for us forever."
Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD has extra counselors at L.D Bell High on Monday for students who need it.
Classmates asked friends to wear flannel to school on Monday as a show of support and to honor the memory of Tabatha Romaker.
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