(Eagle (Bryan, TX) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 01--At 5-feet-1-inch tall, Lindsay Walters may have been small in stature, but the 21-year-old Aggie and accomplished ballet dancer left a big impact.
"When she did her extensions, she looked 5'10"," Charles Walters said of his daughter's dancing. "A graceful, gracious young lady."
But just two months before completing her bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting with a 4.0 GPA, Lindsay was killed while waiting to pay her Northgate parking fee in the early hours of March 1, 2009. She had been out with friends after passing a section of the certified public accountant exam.
A truck leaving the parking garage struck several people in line at the self-pay station, seriously injuring one of Lindsay's best friends, Rachel Rahn, and nearly tearing Lindsay's 95-pound body in half.
"She's dancing for God now," Charles said, remembering his only daughter, who was set to start her career at an accounting firm in Dallas that fall.
Five years since the tragic incident, Lindsay's family and friends will gather at the Northgate Parking Garage at 2 p.m. Saturday to remember her with a balloon release -- 60 white balloons to represent the number of months she's been gone.
"Lindsay was a blessing," Lisa Walters, Class of '79, said of her daughter. "There was never a moment that she caused me any trouble. She didn't go through the terrible twos or the terrible threes. She wasn't a rebellious teenager. We were best friends."
It hasn't been an easy road for Charles and Lisa Walters, who divorced when Lindsay was a child. Following the death of his "sweet pea," Charles said he lost his job due to his struggles with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"If someone had asked 'What do you want in a child?' I couldn't have designed a child like her," Charles said. "I didn't deserve her, but I sure would not have given her back. The hurt is deep. I felt like we died that day too."
While they continue to struggle with loss and the violent manner in which Lindsay died, Lisa and Charles both credit their faith and the support they received at the Austin-based Christi Center for helping them cope.
"I've made it five years, and I never ever in my wildest dream thought that I would still be here," Lisa said.
Letting go of bitterness and forgiving the woman driving the truck that killed their daughter also helped. Both Lisa and Charles did so when they made their victim's impact statements to Alma Martinez-Cooley, 31, on what would have been their daughter's 24th birthday.
"Bitterness is like a virus. It's an infection," Lisa said explaining her decision to forgive Alma Martinez-Cooley, the driver of the truck. "It controls your life, but if you release that, then you can have control of your life again. Instead of Alma controlling my life, I took control of my life."
In 2011, Martinez-Cooley was sentenced to 300 hours of community service, a $1,000 fine and five years of deferred adjudication after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide. If she completes the terms of her probation, which includes not entering a bar and reporting to jail every year from Feb. 28 to March 7 until 2016, the conviction will be removed from her record. The sentence was part of a plea deal the Walters said they agreed on as a way to keep Rahn off the stand.
While the weeks leading up to March 1 bring back memories of the crash that killed their daughter, it also gives the Walters the opportunity to share memories with Lindsay's friends. They enjoy keeping in touch with those she was close to as a way of maintaining their connection to their daughter.
Lindsay will be an honorary bridesmaid at a friend's wedding in May. Her picture and flowers will sit near the altar as her friend takes her vows.
"They're bittersweet times because that'll never happen for us, but I know where she is, and I know that we'll see her again," Lisa said.
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