Chilmark woman dies in South Dakota car crash

Juliet Burkett in her 2007 Martha's Vineyard Charter School graduation photo. — Photo courtesy of MV Charter School

Juliet R. Burkett, 21, of Chilmark died Sunday night when the vehicle she was riding in rolled into a ditch along Interstate 90 near Presho, South Dakota, according to KDLT News.

Officials with the South Dakota Highway Patrol said Ms. Burkett, a 2007 Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School (MVPCS) graduate, was a passenger in a 2001 Honda CRV driven by 19-year-old Makayla Elizabeth Mae Todd of South Bend, Ind. They said Ms. Todd swerved and drove into the ditch, where the SUV rolled and landed on its top in the median at 8:20 pm September 18.

Officials said both women were wearing seat belts. Ms. Todd suffered minor injuries. They do not believe alcohol was a factor in the crash. The Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.

MVPCS director Bob Moore said he learned that Ms. Burkett was headed back to resume her studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, after finishing up a visit with friends on the east coast just four days ago.

“We are sad here, among the Charter School community,” Mr. Moore said in a phone conversation on Tuesday. “She was a warm, cheerful human being that brought sunshine and laughter into the building every day. I can tell you that she was a wonderful representative of the Charter School, and we send our care and love to her family.”

Juliet was well known in Chilmark where she worked for the beach department for a number of years. “She was in the town hall most days this summer selling beach stickers and became a member of our town office family,” Tim Carroll, executive secretary, said.

Martina Mastromonaco, Chilmark beach superintendent, said it was a terrible loss. “I have never lost one of my kids,” Ms. Mastromonaco said in an email to The Times. “She worked for me for years. I watched her grow. She was so full of life.”

Ms. Burkett was the daughter of Joseph M. Burkett, who currently lives in West Tisbury, and the late Rise Sroka.

A memorial service for Juliet Burkett will be held at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center on Center Street in Vineyard Haven at 11 am on Friday, September 23.