Family and friends remember Seymour teen killed in crash

Family and friends remember Seymour teen killed in crash

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By MONA NAIR
6 News Reporter

SEYMOUR (WATE) – Friends of a teenager killed in a church van crash gathered to remember her Wednesday evening.

Courtney Kaliszewski, 16, was killed in an accident Sunday while returning from Gatlinburg after a weekend retreat with her church's youth group.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said a Chevy Blazer crossed the center line of Chapman Highway and hit the van head on. The van caught fire shortly afterward.

Jeff Trussel, 45, a youth pastor at Cedar Grove Baptist Church was also killed.

Many Seymour students were at Kaliszewski's visitation. For most, Sunday's accident was their first lesson on how unpredictable life can be.

"She touched a lot of people. She's in a better place now. I hope this brings a lot of people to understand life's too short," said Travis Oaks, a childhood friend as he cried and remembered his friend.

Today, there's a small, decorated cross and flowers at the accident site.

At her visitation, her school community wore special colors. Some wore a combination of blue and green, which were her favorite colors. Others wore black and yellow to represent the Pittsburgh Steelers , Kaliszewski's favorite professional football team. Students said they plan to wear those colors all week in her memory.

It's a tribute of colors for a colorful personality.

"She was always laughing on the bus, giggling and friendly with everybody," said Lacie Jones, who rode the bus with Kaliszewski for years.

Even a simple game reminded some student's of Kaliszewski's personality.

"She would always bring a deck of cards on the bus and we'd play slapjack in the morning. She was the one we could never beat," said Brandon Jones, who also rode the same bus.

Some at the visitation took solace in knowing that her life was taken right after a trip of faith.

"She and God were able to square away anything she had to talk to him about. They had the weekend to do it," another student, Dolly Rosendahl, said.

 The finality of life is one lesson many student's at Wednesday's visitation learned.

"If it happens to her on a church bus, it can happen to any of us," said Lacie.

"I guess I grew up, graduated, and lost contact. I'll regret it everyday now," Oaks said.

Kaliszewski's funeral is Thursday at 1 p.m. at Atchley's Seymour Chapel.The burial will follow at Cedar Grove Cemetery.

Services for Jeff Trussell, the other victim of the crash, are on Friday.

His family will receive friends from 3 to 6 p.m. at Cedar Grove Baptist Church.

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