Mother recalls selfless daughter

Amanda Pollard

Kirsten Ross never wanted to be the center of attention. She always let others shine.

“She never said it’s all about me; it was all about them,” said Hazel Tetrick, Ross’ mother.

Ross’ 2004 Honda Civic collided with a firetruck April 12, killing her friend Nancy Concepcion Gonzalez, 20, of Roseville. Ross’ life was taken just after her life support was gone.

A student at Sacramento State, Ross was interested in criminal justice and had recently decided to pursue her dreams of becoming a corporate lawyer.

“We had just talked about it last week and she had finally made up her mind. She wanted to help the little people go after the big corporations,” Tetrick said.

Tetrick exemplified Ross’ interest in school and the importance she placed on attaining an education. Ross often encouraged her friends to take school seriously and value their time in college.

Tetrick said Ross felt shy at school, but had recently made friends with students from similar classes and had been enjoying getting to know them.

“She was the kind of girl at school that made it a point to talk to the people no one else did. She would stick up for those who couldn’t do it for themselves,” Tetrick said.

In addition to school, Ross was employed at Starbucks in West Roseville and had been at the store for three years.

Friend and co-worker Ryan Spangler recalls Ross being an uplifting person who could always be counted on for a smile. Spangler also remembers Ross’ relationship with her customers as being genuine and captivating.

“She was very engaging to customers; she always listened. It’s our job, but you can tell some people fake it and she never did. She genuinely cared,” Spangler said.

Spangler also remembers how Ross’ admiration for her mother shone through their conversations in the past year and a half of their friendship.

“They had those typical mother-daughter things, but you could tell they were very close. She didn’t talk about too many other people. I think her mom was one of the most important people in her life,” Spangler said.

Ross’ manager Nancy Carpenello said as soon as the store put Ross’ picture up with information on the accident and how to donate money, Carpenello recalls an outpour of support.

“As soon as they put the face with the name it clicked; everyone was really sad. We are already a close-knit community and you get to know your baristas. She has been here a while, so they knew who she was. A lot of people were asking what we were doing for her,” Carpenello said.

The Starbucks staff began accepting donations with cards for Tetrick to help with the funeral costs. In addition, they are assembling numerous baskets with products from their store and many others in the surrounding areas.

“We are going to raffle off the baskets and hopefully raise enough to help with expenses. I haven’t sat down with her mom and set a goal. I only know we want to do everything we can,” Carpenello said.

The Starbucks where Ross was employed invited all of their employees to wear jeans on Friday and donate $5 to a fund that will go to Ross’ family.

Even after Ross’ death, she continued to show her giving spirit. One of her greatest wishes was to be an organ donor. A man in Arizona received a healthy heart as a result of the tragedy.

“I hope I get to meet him someday,” Tetrick said, as she choked back tears. “I want to tell him what a wonderful heart he has.”

Tetrick was calm and collected as she recalled her daughter’s fun-loving spirit. It was only when she approached the subject of the men involved that she began to show her pain.

“Those firemen sent us the most beautiful bouquet of flowers you could imagine. My heart goes out to them because there is no way they will ever be the same. They are supposed to save lives, not take them,” Tetrick said.

Around 2 a.m. on April 12, Ross was traveling westbound on L Street when she allegedly failed to stop at a flashing red light at the intersection of 9th and L Streets, said public information officer for the Sacramento Fire Department Jim Doucette. Ross’ Honda was struck by a fire engine that was driving southbound on 9th Street with its lights and sirens on.

The firemen in the truck responded immediately to the accident. Once it was determined the passenger did not survive, they extracted Ross from the car and sent her by ambulance to

the UC Davis Hospital.

After talking about Ross’ accident, Tetrick expressed her care and concern for the friends of her daughter.

“There were always kids here at my house. And now the kids are the ones that break my heart. There are a few I am close with that have been at my house a lot,” Tetrick said.

Tetrick also mentioned Ross’ love for poetry and talked about the binder Ross kept of everything she wrote.

“I’m thinking of taking it and making it into a little book for her closest friends. A lot of people didn’t know that when she was hurting she used to write,” Tetrick said.

Ross’ father died when she was 14. As a single parent, Tetrick only had family living out of California to turn to.

“The worst part is I’m all alone now. She gave all of herself, and this world is losing a very special person. She would have made such a difference in this world.”

A memorial fund has been set up through Wells Fargo Bank. Anyone can make donations to the In Memory of Kirsten Ross Fund.

Amanda Pollard can be reached at [email protected].