News that 17-year-old Natalie Claire Insley was killed in a car accident last week devastated hundreds of people who knew and loved her.
But the tragedy was especially emotional for Insley’s art teacher, Erin Sowers Davis. The Tyaskin teenager was scheduled to be in Davis’ art class again in the upcoming academic year.
“I will keep her seat empty for awhile when school starts,” Davis said a few days after learning the Bennett High School senior died Monday night, when the car in which she was a passenger hit a tree in Sharptown, killing her and injuring the driver and three passengers.
The daughter of Amanda Janet Casey Insley of Tyaskin and Jonathan Scott Insley and his wife, Melanie of Tyaskin, Natalie Insley is survived by four brothers and sisters..
In her obituary, her family referred to her lovingly as “Nat-Nat” and wrote she was a gifted artist who “loved music, flowers, the beach, TV shows: Sponge Bob, Full House and Friends, and most of all spending time with her family.”
“She was a wonderful daughter and will be forever in our hearts. Natalie saw true beauty in every aspect of life,” the family wrote, adding the outpouring of love from the community is appreciated.
That love raised about $20,000 for the family, thanks to good-hearted students at Northwestern Elementary School, who sold lemonade, baked goods and lapel ribbons for several days. On Saturday, the lemonade stand moved to Oakley’s Market, where a steady stream of customers bought cups of it from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Oh, my gosh, there were so many people here,” Connie Oakley told the Salisbury Independent.
“I know the family and I know the kids who set up the lemonade stand, so we thought they would be able to get much more visibility here. It was an awesome turn out,” she said.
In the late afternoon Saturday, Insley’s family arrived to gratefully accept a check, to help with medical bills and funeral expenses.
“They are doing about as well as can be expected,” Oakley said.
“It’s such a tragic loss. It’s just minute by minute. It was a pretty tough day for them just coming here,” she said.
There’s also a GoFundMe account for Tyler Ennis, a passenger in the car, who is being treated for injuries at Shock Trauma in Baltimore.
By mid-weekend, $2,995 of the $5,000 goal for him had been met, with Natalie’s Lemonade giving $500 and donors leaving uplifting comments for Ennis on the Web page.
“Praying for you.” “Stay strong.” “You got this,” they wrote to Ennis, who’s shown in a photograph lying in a hospital bed with his eyes closed. His right arm is in in bandages and a cast and oxygen tubes extend to his nose.
Salisbury Taxi’s manager, Tammy Legates, is offering to have a taxi take his grandmother, who is raising him, to Shock Trauma to visit Ennis at the half-price rate of $110 each day. The community can help by donating at the office, at 1501 Edgemore Avenue off North Salisbury Boulevard.
The driver and other passenger were treated at Peninsula Regional Medical Center.
Meantime, loving survivors are planning to attend Insley’s funeral at Bennett High School Monday. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Her art work will be on display, Davis said.
“She was just a very nice girl. She loved her mother and father. Natalie wanted people to be happy and to smile, so I’m glad there’s going to be a celebration of her life,” Davis, her teacher, said.
“Our class is like a little family so they are distraught. Natalie was in my class the past two years and was going to be in Art IV this year. She was in the class of 2017. Any time I needed help with anything, she always was willing to help. It was so nice to see her smile every morning.
“She was beautiful inside and out. She was the kind of kid you want your kids to grow up to be,” Davis said.
“She wanted to be a teacher, an elementary school teacher. She likes little ones. She had a great sense of humor. She was always smiling and laughing. I don’t think she realized how beautiful she was.”
Reach Susan Canfora at email@example.com.