Searching for Friends and Finding Tragedy…

23 04 2008

As the days turn to months and years go by in the flash of an eye, nostalgia can creep up on us and suddenly we are on a mission to find that old girlfriend or boyfriend or whomever. This morning I woke up from a dream in which a very good friend of mine (whom I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years) was driving on a dangerous road and rammed into a freshly carved hillside. We weren’t hurt in my dream, but it startled me awake and so I plopped down in front of my computer and entered his name:

Lyne S. Berry

Fortunately Lyne has an unusual name so I could dispense with the Billiondy Gazzilliondy hits that Google often returns in a basic search.

Unfortunately, my friend has suffered a catastrophic loss of his daughter and wife 2 years ago. Here is the sad story as found at the first and only link relating to my dear old friend, Lyne {pronounced “Line”}:

Oakland Tribune December 20, 2006

Fifth-grader from Union City to be memorialized Saturday McKenna

By Linh Tat

UNION CITY — Holding a memorial service for his daughter just days before she was to turn 11 is not how Lyne Berry had envisioned celebrating her birthday.

Nor is it how he had envisioned observing his own birthday, which falls one day after the service, on Christmas Eve.

But that’s what he must do.

On Saturday, the Union City resident will hold a memorial service for McKenna Berry, a fifth-grader at Searles Elementary School, who died after a car accident east of Gilroy last weekend.

McKenna, who would have turned 11 on Dec. 26, was knocked unconscious when the vehicle her mother was driving flipped several times on Highway 152 near Pacheco Pass and ended up on the other side of the median Saturday afternoon, said Starlyn Berry, McKenna’s sister, who also was in the 1994 Ford Explorer. No other vehicles were hit.

McKenna and her mother, Ann Berry of Gilroy, were airlifted to hospitals in the area. McKenna died Saturday afternoon from blunt- force injuries, and her mother was pronounced brain-dead the next day at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, according to the coroner’s office in Stanislaus County.

Starlyn, 15, a sophomore at James Logan High School in Union City, sustained a fractured knee and bruises. Another passenger, Leonard Gutierrez, 38, of Gilroy, suffered major injuries and was taken to a hospital, according to the Gilroy Dispatch.

Starlyn said she does not know why her mother lost control of the car while driving in the fast lane. Alcohol was not a factor, and everyone was wearing seat belts, Lyne Berry said police officers told him. Lyne and Ann Berry divorced about seven years ago.

An animal lover, McKenna dreamed of becoming a veterinarian and had asked for more Littlest Pet Shop toy animals for Christmas to add to her collection of about 30 “pets.”

McKenna used to own cats and rabbits when she lived with her mother in Morgan Hill, and she helped take care of a snake at her father’s place. McKenna, who believed in Santa Claus, also loved swimming, riding her bicycle around the neighborhood, playing outdoors and meeting new people. “She would say hi to anybody. It didn’t matter who you were, what you were. If you were a person, you were her friend,” Lyne Berry said.

Fifth-grade teacher Vince Furia noted McKenna’s love of hula hoops and of animals — she had surrounded her desk with photographs of her cats earlier this year.

After some bumps in the road, when she first enrolled at Searles Elementary about 11/2 years ago, McKenna was starting to excel academically, Furia said.

“I was beginning to see how bright she really was,” Furia said. “She really emerged as a very strong reader, someone who just had a natural intelligence and who could give intelligent answers if she really applied herself.”

To help pay for medical and memorial service expenses, Berry has established the McKenna Berry Memorial Fund, account No. 603062639 at Bank of the West, 33301 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City, 94587.

Any money remaining after bills have been paid will be donated to a local animal shelter in McKenna’s name, her father said.

Saturday’s memorial service will begin at 1 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 35450 Newark Blvd., Newark.

“She had this electric personality that grabbed you,” Berry said. “She’s going to be missed by everybody that knew her.”




One response

21 05 2008

Thanks for remembering McKenna (my neice) & Lyne (my ex-brother in law) and Starlyn. It’s a tragedy (I lost my sister, too). Lyne’s a good daddy and doing his best. It really helps the pain, when I see other’s caring words and remembering our loved ones. Thank you.

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