A year after Lindsey Smith’s death, students, friends and family continue to honor her through their memories, actions and love.
Smith passed away in a head-on collision Jan. 25 of last year. She and several other students – Bo Braddock, Eric Terrazas, Callie Kerbo, Deanna Romero and Rebekah Cherniss – were on their way to the Grand Ole Oplin, a popular two-stepping destination for ACU students, when they collided with a truck driven by Abilene resident Jeffrey Davis. After the wreck, Smith and Davis were pronounced dead at the scene.
For many, the memory of that night is a sharp reminder of how Smith’s passing brought the ACU community together.
Kerbo, sophomore marketing major from Murfreesboro, Tenn., said she thinks about that night almost everyday. She said the time she spent in the hospital room surrounded by students, staff and family will be engrained in her memory forever.
“How do you look at some of her friends and know that you got through it and she didn’t?” Kerbo said. “But whenever I look back on the accident I don’t necessarily see all the sadness. I see the hospital waiting room and UCC that Sunday night, sitting between Bo and Eric and not knowing what to do, but knowing that this was something that was going to take a long time to heal from. I see the Chapel on Monday and the people who were there to help us. I see the people who are still there for me whenever it’s a little hard to deal with. That’s what I see when I look back at it.”
Terrazas, senior Ad/PR and marketing major from Argyle, said he will always be affected by the event.
“I’d like to say that it happened and that it’s all good, but there are constant reminders every day. Sometimes, if I go out dancing I think of Lindsey. Sometimes I just look in the mirror and look at little scars and wish that wasn’t there and wish that didn’t happen,” Terrazas said. “But God has a plan for everything, so I don’t really question that.”
However, he said their group of friends has grown stronger since the accident.
“I feel like we’re now more of a family, more so than just a group of friends, because we do have that gap,” Terrazas said. “We’ve actually gotten closer than we were before.”
Eric Schinske, senior social work major from Argyle, helped organize the Red Boot Roundup, a dancing event at ACU to raise money for a scholarship in Lindsey’s name.
“I feel more connected to groups Lindsey was close to that I didn’t know very well. And those I were close to, I became closer to. We instantly all knew one another because we all had the similarity of loving and respecting how beautiful Lindsey’s heart was,” Schinske said. “Lindsey taught us all how to love every day you have, love everyone you know, and fight for what you believe in.”
As a way to remember Smith’s life and bring her joy to other’s, her family and friends are organizing events starting Friday and continuing into the weekend.
Terrazas organized a Facebook event named “Oplin One Year Later,” for Friday – a night of dancing at The Grand Ole Oplin, Lindsey’s favorite Abilene spot.
“I didn’t want to make a big thing about it. It’s just kind of our thing to do for Lindsey,” Terrazas said.
Paige Buck, senior marketing major from New Braunfels, was a childhood friend of Smith. Buck said she and a group of friends are spending Saturday doing community service in memory Smith’s passion for theatre and acting. She said the group plans on helping a production during the day and reminiscing about Smith as they watch her favorite movies at night.
When asked what students should remember about Smith, Buck said students should learn to embrace life.
“She lived her life fearlessly, and I think more people should obviously have caution in life, but try new things and not be scared,” Buck said. “In her case, that was the best thing she could have done. She lived her life to the fullest and probably had no regrets.”
Terrazas, as well as many other friends, said Smith was an amazing woman who will be remembered for her comical antics and personality.
“Lindsey was definitely one of those people who was a very fun-spirited, spontaneous person, that you just don’t come across very often. I think that’s one of the things I miss most about her,” Terrazas said. “She’d always come up with the most random games to play because there was a lull in a moment, she just had to do something.”
Linda Smith, Lindsey’s mother, said she and her family were amazed by the community’s effort to comfort them.
“I think that the student body really came together,” she said. “The ACU community has been an incredible support to my family, whether it be the almost daily texts I receive from students, gifts that have been given to us or people taking her purple bracelets and giving them out in the world and telling her story.”
The Smith’s said they would like to personally thank the social clubs for all the donations to Lindsey’s scholarship foundation, especially Galaxy, the social club her father participated in as a student, as well as Seekers of the Word for their continual support.
Todd Smith, Lindsey’s father, said he hopes Lindsey’s memory will inspire students to make a difference in their daily lives.
“I think she longed for real relationships, that was really important for her, she wanted to really know people. She was far from perfect and still had many faults, but most people we talked to felt like she was very real,” he said. “If she said she cared about you, she really did. Even though she had shortcomings and failures, she longed to live out her life and faith in a very real way.”
The Smiths are planning a “random-acts-of-kindness day,” with the intention of spreading hope. They encourage students to participate as well. The Smiths requested that anyone who participates in the event, no matter how small of an act, post their story on Lindsey’s Facebook page. Or, if a person would prefer to keep his or her story a secret, to post #lovelikeLindsey on the wall.
“We just hope that people will find a chance to reach out and help someone, whether they are unfortunate or just down that day, but just plant a little seed of hope and joy in their lives, because Lindsey definitely brought a lot of joy to people,” Todd said. “We’re just hoping that people will do that in her memory on Saturday, or just this weekend. To us, that’s the most appropriate way to remember her.”
Todd said he would like to thank everyone for spreading Lindsey’s love long after the accident.
“It’s been kind of an amazing thing, it’s kind of strange. I feel like in death she’s had almost a bigger impact than in her life, because she’s really made people stop and think,” he said. “We’ve had lots of things, almost like signs from God. We’ve had so many lives affected and so many people tell us so many stories about the lasting influence that she’s having on them. That’s been something else that we’ve treasured, that has given us hope.”
He also wanted to encourage students to appreciate the community here at ACU.
“Being part of the ACU family, getting us through this, from administrators and the president, all the way down to students that still contact us and tell stories about Lindsey and mention the things they want to do with their lives- that’s not something you find everywhere,” he said. “I hope that people will be encouraged to value what makes ACU unique. It’s important to get an education, but the relationships that people build there, and that we’ve had, have really kept us up. In a really tough time, it’s meant a lot to us- how everyone has treated us and how much loved they’ve poured out to us.”
“We have a lot of gratitude toward everybody at ACU. They’ve done so much for us. We’re lucky to have that many friends and loved ones to get us through a tough time,” Todd said. “Because of that we’ve witnessed God’s love first hand in a tragic situation, and we hope that it’ll continue to bring hope to other people.”