Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 3:25 am | Fair 63º


Local News

Family, Friends Fondly Remember Santa Maria Crash Victim Ashley Kerr

Fiery accident on Highway 101 claimed the life of the 25-year-old makeup artist and model; the driver and another passenger escaped the wreckage

The day after she was killed in a fiery crash on Highway 101 in Santa Maria, Ashley Kerr was being remembered Monday as a vibrant 25-year-old with a big heart.

Kerr was a passenger in a Chevy Blazer pulling a trailer that went off the road and slammed into several trees and a sound wall before erupting into flames on the side of southbound Highway 101, near Donovan Road, shortly before 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Kerr, who suffered major head trauma and burns, was trapped in the wreckage and was declared dead at the scene, leaving friends and family shocked at the loss.

The driver, Travis Dashek, 22, of Santa Maria, and another passenger, Kurt Hixenbaugh, 21, escaped the wreckage. Both were taken to Marian Regional Medical Center for treatment of major injuries, the California Highway Patrol said.

Dashek was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and he may face additional charges once the case is forwarded to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

Word of Kerr’s death spread quickly through the community, and on Monday, Adrienne Sophie Roy started a GoFundMe site to provide financial assistance to the family of her “best friend.”

“She had a big heart and was always there for me,” Roy wrote on the site. “She did whatever she could to make me happy and she had a smile that could just melt you.

"She had so many aspirations and goals; she was a talented model, makeup artist, and had so many plans. Her family needs as much as help as possible. Thank you and please keep them in your prayers through this tragedy.”

By Monday evening, the effort had raised more than $1,500 toward the $5,000 goal. Facebook users had shared the fundraising site nearly 1,000 times. 

Kerr graduated from Delta High School in 2008, and reportedly worked as a pharmacy technician at the Costco store in Goleta.

When a local TV station used Kerr's driver's license photo in reports on her death, her grandmother, Marie Russo Kerr, noted wryly in a message on the story, "Oh my gosh, her driver's license photo. She would be so mad. I'm her grandmother, by the way."

Tiffany McCoy, who had taken modeling portraits of Kerr, posted one Monday with the simple words, “Rest in peace my beautiful friend” and Sunday’s date.

"She was very outgoing," McCoy told Noozhawk. "She was happy all the time."

Kerr would bend over backwards to help her friends and be there for them as needed, McCoy said. 

"When it comes down to it, she was just an outgoing person," McCoy said. "I was shocked last night, absolutely and totally shocked."

When Kerr showed up for a photo session, she first gave hugs and kisses to McCoy's 5-year-old son. On Monday, McCoy wrestled with how to tell the youngster about their friend's death.

The full-of-life Kerr had many plans for herself, including attending school for makeup and doing more modeling, added McCoy, who had planned to meet up with Kerr this week.

In a comment on Noozhawk hours after the accident, another friend, Kyle Brennan, remembered Kerr as “a beautiful and magnificent woman who was chasing a strong modeling career, had an amazing mind and brightened the world around her.” 

Poignantly, one of Kerr's final Facebook posts includes the lyrics of the song “Here Comes Goodbye” by Rascal Flatts: "Here comes goodbye, Here comes the last time, Here comes the start of every sleepless night, the first of every tear I'm gonna cry ..." Rascal Flatts I love you so much it's just too much. Every song gets me.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Ashley Kerr, 25, of Santa Maria, who died Sunday evening in a crash on Highway 101, was an aspiring makeup artist and model who friends say had a big heart. (Photo courtesy of Tiffany McCoy Photography)

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