Through years of stories, Stephanie Kucmerowski says she is reminded of the good times, and good energy, Carolyn Ray brought along with her.
“She’s like a ray of sunshine,” Kucmerowski said. “She was always smiling, always so positive all the time about everything.”
Ray, a second-grade teacher at Barclay Elementary School in Brockport, was identified as the person hit by a pickup truck on Sweden Walker Road in the Town of Clarkson on Saturday.
Kucmerowski says she first met Ray at the elementary school roughly five years ago, as she taught her son Daniel. She says Ray continued to greet her son even after he left her class.
But it was out on the ice hockey rink where Ray and the Kucmerowski family would see each other almost every day. The two families both have children who play in the Tri-County Youth Hockey League.
Kucmerowski says Ray always volunteered and was a friendly face at practices and games, but Kucmerowski’s daughter,Madison says, you didn’t even have to know Ray for her energy to rub off.
“You knew who she was, just an amazing, thoughtful, kind, joyful, positive person,” Madison said.
Stephanie says they would occasionally see Ray outside of school and hockey and knew her to be an avid bicyclist. Ray was traveling south on her bicycle Saturday afternoon when the pickup, also traveling south, hit her.
Ray later died of her injuries early Sunday morning.
So when Kucmerowski heard of Ray’s crash, and later her death, she says the family was devastated.
“We were at the rink today, and it’s just, everyone is mourning,” Stephanie said.
But even in mourning, the Kucmerowskies want to keep Ray’s spirit alive, so they’re taking their tribute to the ice.
During a youth hockey game next weekend, rolls of purple ribbon will be tied to the uniforms of every player. Stephanie says purple was Ray’s favorite color. If you look closer, the ribbons will include bands of tinsel.
“Mrs. Ray always had that tinsel in hair, whenever you saw her it was always just there,” Madison said.
“We just can’t do enough to honor [her], so we’re going to try to do everything we can,” Stephanie said.
“She’ll always be here with us,” Madison said.
Tri County League President Stacey Esposito says the league will hold a vigil for Ray Monday night at 6:30 p.m. at Hamlin Beach State Park. More info can be found here.
The Brockport School District gave a statement Sunday morning:
“The Brockport Central School District is saddened to learn that Carolyn (Carrie) Ray, a second-grade teacher at Barclay Elementary School, has died due to injuries she sustained from a bicycle accident Saturday morning. Carrie was a teacher with the district for almost 15 years and will be deeply missed. Resources and counselors will be available to provide emotional support for both students and staff.”
The driver of the pickup truck was uninjured and a drug and alcohol pre-screening was performed. Deputies say drugs and alcohol do not appear to be a factor in the crash. No charges have been filed at this time however, the investigation is ongoing.