Pierce County family: Bullies at school drove our 14-year-old to suicide

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — Gabby Cazares, 14, of  Pierce County took her own life and her family said bullying was the root cause.

Gabby attended Hudtloff Middle School in Lakewood, where she was in the eighth grade.

Her family said the administration did not do enough to protect her.

“Now, my sister is gone and the school still has no answers,” said Gabby's brother Danny Tobar.

Family video shows Gabby celebrating her 14th birthday in September.

Little did her family know it would be her last.

The pain is evident in her mother's eyes as she struggles to believe her youngest child is gone.

“I thought it was a dream, that maybe I can wake up,”  Ma- Araceli Gutierrez said, sobbing.

But the nightmare is all too real.

Gutierrez shared with KIRO 7 her last words with her daughter on the night of her death.

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“She gave me a hug and said 'Ma, thank you. I'm going to sleep, OK?' I said, 'OK'.

"And she went in her room and after 45 minutes, I get up because I feel something in here. And I get up. And the window was open. She was not there,” recounted Gutierrez.

The once-happy child was found hanging from a tree in the backyard of their Lakewood home.

Gabby's family said she was relentlessly bullied at Hudtloff Middle School.

“She was afraid to even talk, at one point,” said Tobar. “Kept it to herself, which, I think that's what pushed her over the limit.”

Tobar said the bullying began immediately after she transferred to the school at the beginning of the year.

He said Gabby had a thyroid problem that caused her hair to fall out.

“So she shaved off her hair,” he said, “They started making fun of her for that. 'Oh you've got cancer. You've got a disease.'”

The family said it got much worse.

“They would chase her into the bathroom, harassing her,” said Tobar.

Gabby was involved in fights.

Children told her she should kill herself.

She even tried to take her own life earlier in the year.

The family kept an eye on her.

Her mother said she sounded the alarm to the school frequently but, each time, her cries for help were ignored.

“I believe the principal could have stopped this by disciplining those kids the proper way,” Tobar said. “There's a lot the school could have done for us, too. We've done everything we actually could.”

Now, Gabby's mother has one simple question.

“I see a lot of messages when the children say 'Gabby helped me a lot with a lot of things.' But who helped my daughter? Who?” asked Gutierrez.

The Clover Park School District said it is aware of the issues that have been raised and will review the circumstances surrounding the situation. Right now, the district said, it is focused on addressing the health and well-being of the students and staff.

Kim Prentice, the director of community relations for the Clover Park School District, provided the following statement to KIRO 7:

"We are very saddened by the recent loss of a Hudtloff Middle School student and extend our sincere condolences to the family during this difficult time.  

"Right now we are focused on addressing the health and well-being of our school community.  Additional support has been provided to staff and students. 

"We are aware of the issues that have been raised and will review the circumstances surrounding this situation. However, we are unable to share information at this time to respect the confidentially of the individuals involved." 

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family pay for Gabby Cazares' funeral. Click here for more information.

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