Family and friends remember Tressa McKinney

Saturday February 9, 2013

WINDHAM -- There is no lack of love for a local girl who will surely be missed.

Her untimely death has shocked family and friends.

"The only word that sums Tressa up is just fabulous," her mother Crystal Lyn Corriveau said. "The love she had for her brother and sister was just amazing ... amazing."

Tressa McKinney, 20, was killed in a car accident on Jan. 28.

She had been traveling southbound on Route 30 in Jamaica when she lost control of her vehicle and skidded across the road. She crashed into an SUV, which Gavin Scotti was driving, in the northbound lane.

"One thing I'll always remember," said Reggie Hughes, who had once rented an apartment near Stratton Mountain with McKinney. "She had this little smirk she used. It always looked like she was up to something."

Hughes had worked with McKinney at Stratton Mountain, doing housecleaning. They shared an apartment for about four or five months but he had known her for three years.

"She really enjoyed her life," said Hughes. "Every time you saw her, she was always laughing or joking around with someone.

Hughes spoke at McKinney's funeral.

"She just loved herself and made you feel good when she was around you," he told the Reformer. "That's what so many people are missing now in the suddenness of her death. This fun person isn't going to be around anymore. It's just heartbreaking."

At the funeral last Saturday, friends of McKinney approached Corriveau, describing their relationships with her daughter. Many stressed the importance of their friendship with McKinney.

"One girl said ‘I tried to kill myself, and I met Tressa. Literally, I would not be standing here if I had not met your daughter,'" said Corriveau. "It was amazing to hear how many people she had touched."

McKinney graduated from Leland & Gray Union High School in 2010, where she played softball. She had been the team captain at one point.

She was also into art and music. Most of all, she loved to be around all her friends.

"Tressa's strong sense of fairness, justice and loyalty made me an instant fan," wrote Arlene H. Hanson, Leland & Gray school nurse, in an e-mail to the Reformer. "She worked to change the things she could change, but she would accept the things she couldn't, and I admired her. Everyone had a fair chance with Tressa, but she would hold people accountable."

Her best friend, Brandy Reynolds, said that they got along so well because they were so alike.

"At any given time, I could just talk to Tressa and say, ‘Listen, this is how I'm feeling,' and she'd say, ‘I'm feeling the exact same way.' We were both adolescents going through life together," said Reynolds. "We talked to each other about our problems a lot."

The two met in high school. They had lived in the same town of Windham for years, but never knew each other.

"All of a sudden, I met Tressa McKinney," said Reynolds. "I didn't remember knowing her and I don't remember how we met, but we clicked. We were inseparable."

McKinney and Reynolds enjoyed spending time together. They liked to sit on the couch, playing the zombie apocalypse video game "Left For Dead" or watching the motorcycle club television show, "Sons of Anarchy."

"Tressa once said to me, ‘You know, we're going to be 90, on the couch, watching ‘Sons of Anarchy,' and I'm going to call you up and be like, ‘We're going to have a sleep over,' and you're going to come over with your walker and cane.' I always knew that we were going to be best friends," said Reynolds.

She also mentioned that McKinney would let her come over at any given time, especially if she needed to talk. They would color and draw pictures together. Hughes also said that art was a big part of McKinney's life.

McKinney was a "huge fan of Tinkerbell. She never grew out of it," Reynolds added.

Although Reynolds moved to Greenfield, Mass., they always kept in touch. "We'd talk to each other all the time, though. I really wish we could of seen each other more often these past few months."

She said McKinney had been the only friend who had ever visited her in Massachusetts.

"She came right down to me and said she was going to kidnap me," Reynolds said. "I couldn't leave because I have jobs there, but we drove around and talked non-stop then she left. That was awesome of her, visiting me. I'll never forget that."

Reynolds also remembered getting ready to go to prom together. They had their eyebrows and make-up done at McKinney's house. "We looked our best," she said. "That was a wonderful night in my experience."

Upon graduating from high school, McKinney went from working in housekeeping with her mother and some friends to working with her boyfriend Jared Saunders at Grizzly's, a restaurant at Stratton Mountain.

When McKinney's family moved from Granville, N.Y., to Windham, she was upset to be moving to a place where the weather would be colder. She used to tell her parents everyday that when she turned 18, she would be moving right back to Granville.

"Then she met Jared and stayed," said Corriveau. "She spent some time in New York with her family and said to her grandmother, ‘I can't wait until Jared comes and takes me home.'"

Friends and family told the Reformer that Jared and McKinney had a special relationship. They loved each other very much.

McKinney inspired her brother Tyler Beebe in many ways. He always looked up to her.

"Tressa, the big sister of Tyler. She was the voice of reason when he was confused. She was the first person he would turn to for comfort, when life was difficult. She was the one who made him laugh easily. She was the big sister he cherished," wrote Michele Monks-Manton, who taught McKinney's brother, in an e-mail to the Reformer.

Both her father, Franklin McKeighan and step-father, James Corriveau loved her very much.

"They just thought she hung the moon," Corriveau said. "Whatever Tressa wanted, Tressa got. And that was the end of it."

When it comes to the news of McKinney's untimely death, her mother wants to clear the air. Scotti, who was also involved in the accident, has been blamed by some people for the vehicle he was driving.

"This man will be ruined for the rest of his life," said Corriveau. "My family is completely devastated, but we are also devastated for this poor man, who is also a father. He had to have known at the scene that my daughter was dead. He's got to walk around the rest of his life carrying this burden."

In response to the accident, Corriveau said that people are posting comments online about Scotti driving an SUV. Some have even blamed him for his choice of vehicle.

"It's unfortunate that people wrote cruel things," she said. "Just for the fact that he drove an SUV. They should be ashamed that they can't think of his pain as well as ours."

For now, McKinney's family is figuring out what to do without her in their lives.

"Right now, we're just trying to process how to not talk to her everyday," said Corriveau. "Because I literally talked to her everyday."

When McKinney decided to move out, she had to adhere to two rules that her mother established. First off, she had to friend her mother on Facebook and call her everyday, even if it was just to quickly say she was OK.

"My husband and I are just floored. As her parents, we loved her to death," said Corriveau. "As parents, she drove us crazy. We would say, ‘Why do you do this? Why do you do that?' When they go out on their own, they take everything you taught them and spread it about the community. And when they don't live with you, you don't see that. She took everything we taught her about being a good person and she utilized it."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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