Hundreds mourn Kelly; manslaughter charges likely
While more than 1,000 people gathered at Tahoe-Truckee High School on Sunday afternoon to say goodbye to a beloved wife, mother, coworker and community member, local law enforcement officials were preparing to recommend that charges of felony manslaughter be filed against the man suspected in her death.Mourners filled the TTHS gymnasium in honor of 22-year Truckee resident Joan Kelly, 45, whose life was cut tragically short in an accident a little over a week ago.On March 4, Kelly, her husband Crispin, 47, and their son Kyle, 16, were heading into the Brockway Theater in Kings Beach when the family was struck by a speeding vehicle that had veered onto the sidewalk. Crispin and Kyle sustained various injuries and were treated at Tahoe Forest Hospital. Joan was killed instantly.The Kelly’s two other sons, Scott, 12 and Thomas, 19, were not with them that evening.The driver of the vehicle, Kings Beach resident Stephen Ramm, 46, claims to have experienced a temporary loss of consciousness due to a medical condition just before the accident, according to the California Highway Patrol.As of Wednesday morning, the CHP had all but completed its investigation into the case and plans to recommend that felony manslaughter charges be filed against Ramm, according to Officer Kirk Bromell.”We found Ramm at fault in the accident for his failure to drive on the right half of the roadway and also in violation for driving on the sidewalk,” Bromell said. “The investigation also showed that Ramm had previously been informed by physicians that he had experienced past episodes of losses of consciousness. He had also been told that he should not operate a vehicle because of that condition.”Bromell said the CHP plans to turn the case over to the district attorney’s office sometime next week.At this point, no charges have been filed against Ramm, who is not in custody.According to family and friends at Sunday’s memorial, Joan Kelly touched the lives of nearly everyone she came into contact with.”Very few people could make others feel as comfortable and relaxed as Joan could,” said Greg Cosgrove, a close family friend who spoke at the service. “She had a passionate love for her own family, but also had this amazing ability to make others feel as if they were family, too.”Cosgrove described Kelly as both a devoted wife and a nominee for “mother of the year every day of the year.””She took the term soccer mom to the next level,” he said.At the service, Rev. Thomas Cooper led a sermon in celebration of Kelly’s life, which he described as “a life well-lived.””The name Joan means graciousness, and to me, graciousness means the gift of God. Joan was always a giver, and even now, she continues to give,” said Cooper, as he stood before a makeshift altar enveloped in roses, tulips and lilies.Kelly, the daughter of Tahoe Donner residents Marg and George Long, was born and raised in Downey, Calif.Before moving to Truckee in 1979, Kelly attended Long Beach State University and the University of California, Long Beach, where she earned a degree in business.Truckee was also the place where at age 20 she met her husband, Crispin, who now manages the Northstar Homeowners Association.The two were modeling for Kelly’s father, a professional photographer, who was shooting photos for a brochure for Tahoe Donner.”She came back from meeting [Crispin] and said, ‘This is the man I’m going to marry,'” Rev. Cooper said. “She knew immediately.”Aside from being a devoted wife and mother, friends also described Kelly as an extremely hard worker.”How many people do you know that would choose the Truckee mountain lifestyle and commute to Reno every day for work at an hour when most of us were asleep?” Cosgrove said.Kelly was the overnight casino manager for Harrah’s Reno Casino & Resort for more than 22 years, where she worked the 12:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. shift.Many of Kelly’s coworkers were in attendance at the memorial. Her employer, Allan Fuller, played a moving piano piece in her memory.The Sierra Mountaineers, Truckee’s barbershop chorus, also performed several songs throughout the service.Although it was an emotional ceremony, speakers tried to draw on Kelly’s lighter qualities as well.”She had this contagious giggle,” Cooper said. “And she was definitely a shamer of men. No man could ever back a boat trailer into the water like she could.”Cooper said Kelly will remain present through both the family she left behind and the memories that those who knew her will hold on to.”Joan will always be here through the tremendous gifts that she shared with us,” he said.As family and friends left to the memorial for a gathering in Tahoe Donner, the sun was starting to peak out from the behind the clouds for the first time all day.Memorial contributions can be made to the Joan Kelly Soccer Scholarship Fund at US Bank, 10995 Donner Pass Road in Truckee, 96161.
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