MANCHESTER, NH – It was a busy morning for Yaritza Rodriguez. She hadn’t had time to catch up on the news of the day. By the time she arrived at Manchester VA Hospital with her dad for a routine visit, the text messages started to come in.
“I’m still in shock. I can’t believe we lost Juju,” says Rodriguez, President of Central Little League. Julissa Clem – known to her friends and fellow Central Little League teammates as Juju – died from injuries sustained in an accident on Route 101 Wednesday night. She would have turned 15 next month.
Julissa was on her way home from Hampton beach with her mother, Rebecca Lafontaine, and her step-father, Aaron Lafontaine, when their car veered off the road and crashed into the tree line, according to State Police. Her mother was killed instantly, according to Rodriguez.
“Her step-father is still clinging to life,” Rodriguez said. “I just burst into tears when I got the news, and I had to break it to my kids this morning.”
Juju played for Central Little League “ever since she was a young age,” Rodriguez said. She played just about any position needed, but had been a good pitcher. “She was such a loving young girl. Her smile would bring out the best in everyone, and she got along with everybody.”
Rodriguez received a call Thursday from Hillside Middle School Assistant Principal Sarah Laughlin, to let her know that there would be grief counselors on hand at the middle school from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for parents and students.
“This is going to be hard for her teammates. It’s going to hit us all when we have a moment of silence for her at the field tonight,” Rodriguez said.
Juju played in the majors, and should have been practicing tonight for the upcoming Michael Briggs Memorial Wooden Bat Tournament. The annual tournament was originally scheduled for next week, but due to a scheduling conflict, organizers are still firming up the date, Rodriguez said. “This is just so terrible. I’m heartbroken.”
A GoFundMe page has been launched to assist the family. You can donate here.. “This is just so terrible. I’m heartbroken.”
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