Stahlman family remembers life of beloved student
The family of Taylor Michelle Stahlman is celebrating the life of the outgoing young woman they described as a vivacious and caring soul. However, the family cannot overlook the possibility that her life could have been saved if she had only worn her seatbelt on Wednesday during a single-car accident. They hope her story can reach someone and possibly save a life by encouraging others to use seatbelts.
The accident took place on Wednesday around noon near a bridge on Lexie Cobb Road in Dyer County. Stahlman was reportedly on the phone with a friend when she hit an ice-covered bridge and veered off into a ravine, nearly 30 feet deep. Stahlman was thrown from the vehicle and was pronounced dead a short time later.
Stahlman, a Middle Tennessee State University sophomore and 2011 Dyer County High School graduate, was home for Christmas break and got to spend the holiday with her family.
"We just had a great, great time with her and just laughed," said oldest sister, Kristen Dycus.
She had gotten a text earlier on Wednesday from Taylor saying she was going to a friend's house. A short time later, she received the news her sister had been killed in an accident. The accident report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol states Stahlman was not wearing her seatbelt at the time of the accident and it would have made a difference in the outcome if she had been.
"She wasn't wearing her seatbelt and she always does, and that's the one instance she didn't," said Dycus.
Taylor's father, Mike Stahlman shares the sentiment that people should buckle up anytime they are inside a vehicle.
"If there is any message to learn from this you've got to wear your seatbelt," said Mike Stahlman. "No matter if you're going to the park or to the grocery store you have got to wear your seatbelt."
He noted Taylor's death would hopefully give life since she had made the decision to become an organ donor when she turned 18.
"I pray to God that someday somebody will knock on my door and I'll meet somebody whose life she saves," said Mike Stahlman.
The outpouring of sympathy from the community has been tremendous and Taylor's dad noted it was a reflection of the type of person she was.
"The people in this community have always treated us with open arms and you can't ask for any better people anywhere," said Mike Stahlman.
Dycus, and younger sister, Samantha Stahlman, remember Taylor as being full of life and a nurturing person.
"I will remember her smile and her heart ... and the love she shared with everybody," said Dycus.
"She never met a stranger," said Samantha Stahlman.
Dycus said the whole experience of losing her youngest sister has been surreal and is difficult to cope with.
"It's not real," said Dycus. "I keep waiting to wake up the next day and go like 'bad dream'. It's not happening."
Taylor's mother, Angie Stahlman, said Taylor was a leader and mentor in and out of school.
"She was well known and well loved," said Angie Stahlman.
Taylor's list of accomplishments include:
2011 Honors graduate of Dyer County High School where she was a member of the National Honor Society, President of the Leo Club, DCHS Spirit Queen for three years, selected Most School Spirit by her peers, President of the National Honor Society, member of the Student Council, served as a Class Officer all four years and was a Nominee for the Most Valuable Choctaw Award.
Visitation will be Saturday, Dec. 29, from 4-8 p.m. at Dyer County High School.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 30, at Dyer County High School. Officiating the service will be the Rev. Neal Chatham. Interment will follow in Fairview Cemetery in Newbern, Tenn.