On Saturday, November 9, 2010, nineteen-year-old Angel Charlene Gaines of Charles Town, West Virginia, lost her life in a tragic automobile accident in nearby Ranson. On that morning Angel, in tow with her seventeen-year-old friend Chandler Upson, was running errands for her father. Angel was traveling eastbound on Route 9 in Ranson when she unexpectedly lost control of her Jeep Wrangler, skidded across the grassy medium, and struck an westbound SUV occupied by George and Betty Sue Lloyd, an elderly couple from Charles Town. The horrific accident immediately claimed the lives of Angel, Chandler, and Mr. Lloyd, while Betty - who was eventually airlifted to Inova Fairfax Hospital - died later the day. It was a tragedy of immense proportions that the local area had not experienced to for many years.
As Angel’s neighbors my ex-girlfriend and I were able to assist her family in the aftermath and we were proud to do so. Angel, a 2010 graduate of Washington High School in Charles Town, was one of nicest and most well-grounded kids you could ever hope to meet. She was involved in a local church group and had aspirations of being a missionary for her faith. She also enjoyed photography, creative writing, and making people feel good about themselves. Every time I saw her it seemed she had a smile on her face. Right before my ex-girlfriend's daughter Lauren left for school in New York City she was feeling a bit down. Angel listened to Lauren and later returned with a card and an ice cream. The uplifting card praised Lauren and said how beautiful a person she was. That was Angel.
Her funeral was held at the South Berkeley Chapel (Brown Funeral Home) in Inwood, West Virginia, on Thursday, November 14. The chapel was packed with several hundred people, many of whom had to stand wherever they could find room. The highlight of the service was a short video they played of Angel simply goofing off while singing a silly song. It was amazing. She was subsequently buried near her home at the Edge Hill Cemetery in downtown Charles Town.
The lively Chandler, a senior at Washington High School, had so many friends her funeral service was held in the auditorium of her school. Chandler, whose father is an active duty commander in the U.S. Navy, is pending burial in Arlington National Cemetery. The beloved Lloyds, both in their seventies, were lifelong educators who had served as distinguished teachers and/or administrators in Maryland and West Virginia. They were laid to rest in Edge Hill Cemetery. To see photos of Chandler and the Lloyd’s click here: PHOTOS.
Angel was a genuinely kind soul whose promising life was abruptly cut short. Although I was not that close to Angel her death reminded me of how precious life is. Spread your wings Angel, take flight, and soar above to the lofty heights where you belong. Your brief yet fulfilling work here is apparently completed.