Ashley's Story

It was a beautiful June afternoon filled with the anticipation of the close of another school year and pride in a year full of wonderful accomplishments. All was lost in a matter of seconds. 

The day started as any other; Ashley getting ready for school, stuffing her book bag, and not wanting to eat breakfast. As I threw a bagel and juice into her bag I told her I loved her and wished her a good day. She ran from the house saying, “I love you too!” The last words we spoke. Ashley was picked up by a friend who had a car and had been driving a bit longer than Ashley. At this time I was still taking Ashley to and from school and was not ready to give her a car of her own. This particular day she wanted to go with her friend who was by now driving herself to school. Ashley was a good driver with very good skills. Her driving instructor had commented on how mature she was and how well developed her skills were. He stated that she “drove as if she had been driving for a much longer period of time” and that her “motor skill were well developed…maybe that was because she was a gymnasts,” he said half jokingly.  Still, I was not ready to give her full access to a vehicle.

Ashley was one of those great teenagers every parent is proud to claim and every teacher wants in their class. She was bright, already taking advanced placement classes in tenth grade, a competitive gymnast, and had a reputation for an unstoppable work ethic.  Ashley was a friend to all, thus everyone was her friend. In a school of 4,000 everyone knew Ashley. They knew her laugh (from a mile away!) and stated that her smile lit up the halls. She was kind, compassionate and had wisdom beyond her years. I learned more from Ashley than she did from me. She was level headed and true to herself and her beliefs. Her friends would say that with Ashley there “was no drama”… what you saw was what you got.  She was never afraid to be herself.



That day went on like any other. As I left work I expected my usual call from Ash, it never came. What I did not know was that Ashley had decided to go home during seventh period (the last period of the day) to get started on homework. She had a lot to do and hours of gymnastics practice ahead of her. Finals were approaching and Ash was not one to waste time. Her time management skills were well developed. They had to be for her to maintain her academic standards, 35 hours of gymnastics practice a week and all the rest that comes with being a lively sixteen year old. Seventh period for Ashley was PE. She was opted out of PE due to the level in which she competed in gymnastics. It was a free period for her. She did something that day she had never done before; she asked her friend who had taken her to school if she could borrow her car, go home to start on work, and come back at the end of the school day. Her friend said yes.  

For reasons unknown, Ashley lost control of the vehicle. As she was trying to regain control, she overcorrected which caused the car to skid and hit a tree. The force of the driver side impact killed her instantly. 

I thought it strange that Ashley had not called me as she always did each day.  We would chat as school let out and she would let me know of her plans. Sometimes she had a meeting with a teacher or was staying for her school team gymnastics practice. That day the call did not come and I started to call her. By my third attempt I knew something was wrong. As I neared our home I saw a roadblock, police and rescue workers were everywhere, and a car that looked all too familiar was wrapped around a tree. I knew at that moment she was gone, my world ended.  At first I thought that both girls were in the car. I called her friends cell phone and when she answered, hysterically crying, I knew there was no mistaking what my heart had already told me. The police kept me at bay; they would not permit me to go near her. She was trapped in the car for hours. She had died of massive internal injuries and head trauma.


During the next few days the police tried to piece together what happened. We were able to determine through phone records that she had not been on her cell phone (that was our rule), speed nor alcohol were an issue, no one was in the car to distract her, and she was only a few blocks from home on a road she knew well. Ashley did not have the skills necessary to recover the vehicle. She was driving a vehicle she was not familiar with. Of all the scenarios I had discussed with Ashley this was not one of them. I had never thought to discuss the risk of driving a car you are unfamiliar with, especially as a novice driver.

Hundreds of her friends gathered at the accident site that night. They cried and clung to each other as the sky opened and rain began to pour down on them. The ripple effect had started. Ashley’s death would affect many but her life would impact more than she could have ever imagined.

Ashley Momorial