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Loved ones celebrate life of deceased student through fundraiser

Friends and family of a recently deceased UNF student packed into Paco’s Mexican Grill in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., Sept. 21 in an effort to raise money for funeral costs.The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office found Delia Diaz, a UNF business management junior, dead inside a vehicle that was submerged in a retention pond inside The Wimberly at Deerwood apartment complex off Southside Boulevard. Her body was found at 11:00 p.m., according JSO. She was 22 years old.

Diaz, known by most friends as “D,” worked as a server at Miller’s Jacksonville Ale House on Beach Boulevard.

Many of Diaz’s friends were unable to travel to her funeral in Millwood, Ga., so they decided to hold a fundraiser.

Bonnie O’Meara, a friend and co-worker of Diaz, described her friend as a “full circle and a good person.”

O’Meara said her first impression of Diaz over a year ago was her instant friendliness.

“It’s a shame she had to go so soon,” she said.

Nicole Sargent, a friend and fellow co-worker of Diaz’s, shared the sentiment.

“That’s how we remember her: with her little smirk,” she said. “It’s crazy how many lives she touched. She didn’t care what the world meant, but the world meant so much to her, and that’s why everyone loved Delia.”

Sargent is helping raise money to buy Diaz a headstone.

“Right now, it’s just a small pile of dirt,” she said.

Members of Diaz’s family have taken out loans and are searching for help, Sargent said.

The staff at Miller’s wore red ribbons to commemorate Diaz and her favorite football team, the Georgia Bulldogs.

Sargent called the ribbon a “side pony” because the way of the way Diaz wore her hair.

“She rocked a side ponytail that would have looked ridiculous on anyone else, unless you’re five,” she said. “And she always wore a red ribbon for Georgia.”

O’Meara and Sargent both said they recently held a candle-lit ceremony at the pond where Diaz was found. They said for any of Diaz’s friends that could not attend the ceremony, they left a cross there for everybody to sign.

“It’s a tiny little pond,” Sargent said. “Turtles swim in it. [It’s] under a nice little tree. It feels right in such a wrong situation. You can find peace of mind with that.”

Diaz’s older sister, Candace Diaz, said she is still in shock over her sister’s death but was gracious so many people came out in honor of her.

“It’s shocking,” she said. “But to see the support from all the people she has touched; it’s bitter-sweet.”

Diaz enrolled at UNF last July.

PULL- OUT BOX: JSO’s investigation is still ongoing. Anyone with information can contact JSO at 904-630-0500. Anyone interested in donating money to buy Diaz a headstone can e-mail Nicole Sargent at [email protected].

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