A young Fishtown woman killed in a post-prom auto accident was remembered yesterday as a star soccer player and an honor student interested in a career in psychology.
Lacey Gallagher, 18, a senior at Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls, was killed early Saturday en route from the school's Center City prom to the Poconos. Six other people, including her boyfriend and three Little Flower classmates, were injured in the one-car crash on the northeast extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in northern Bucks County.
Last night, friends and family gathered for a candlelight prayer service at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Fishtown.
Earlier in the day, mourners went to her family's neat brick rowhouse a block from the church to console the young woman's parents, brother, sisters, and one another. Sister Donna Shallo, president of Little Flower, embraced Lacey's mother and told her how much her daughter resembled her.
"It's such a shock," said her maternal grandfather, Corker Bryan, his voice cracking. "She was just an angel. She'd always ask me to sing to her, and she'd laugh and say, 'Pop, you never change.' "
Her mother, Denise, described her daughter as her best friend, said cousin Mary Kate Kilpatrick.
"She was a quiet girl, but she had tons of friends from different neighborhoods because of soccer," Kilpatrick said. She said Gallagher, always wearing jersey number 13, played soccer for Little Flower, the Fishtown Athletic Club, the Penn Academy Athletic Association and the Philadelphia Soccer Club.
She also coached younger soccer players at the Fishtown A.C. and played lacrosse on the Little Flower team.
She planned to play soccer at Chestnut Hill College, where she was to enroll next fall as a psychology major, her family said.
"She was a well-liked student. She always had a cute little sparkle in her eyes," Shallo said.
The school will have counselors available today for grieving students, and a memorial service will be held later this spring, Shallo said.
State police said the seven occupants of the sport utility vehicle were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday. The 2001 Suzuki XL-7 was northbound in the left lane when it hit the concrete median in Milford Township. It spun across its lane, rolled over several times and landed on its roof in the right lane, facing north, police said. Six occupants were thrown from the vehicle.
The injured included Gallagher's boyfriend, Patrick Shiffler, 19, and three of her senior classmates from Little Flower: Katelynn Brooks, 18; Ashley Neitzel, 17, and Danielle Kelly, 17. Also injured was Sean Monaghan, 17, and one other 17-year-old whose name state police withheld.
Police said Gallagher was pronounced dead at the scene by Bucks County deputy coroner Jeffrey A. Naugle. The injured were taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown and St. Luke's Hospital near Bethlehem, police said.
The accident closed the northbound lanes of the turnpike between Lansdale and Quakertown for about three hours Saturday morning. The accident remains under investigation.