HARRODSBURG — Mercer County Senior High School junior and cheerleader Alyssa Kelty had the brightest smile on the sidelines. She shared it earnestly and unselfishly with fans, friends, family, classmates and the community at large.
So when her smile was tragically missing from Friday night’s football game, the crowd replaced it with a moment of silence that seemed to last throughout the evening.
Alyssa, 17, daughter of Mercer County Sheriff Ernie Kelty, died in a car accident Friday afternoon, leaving community members stunned and saddened, said Malissa Hutchins, MCSHS Principal and Sheriff Kelty’s cousin.
“Obviously, we’re all hurting,” she said. “We’re out here at a football game, and it’s senior night, but it’s almost like they don’t believe it happened.”
Kentucky State Police Trooper Paul Blanton said Kelty was driving a Chevy Cobalt to a friend’s house to get ready for the football game about 3:30 p.m. Friday. While navigating a notoriously dangerous curve on U.S. 68 West, she apparently slid off the right side of the road, overcorrected and began sliding sideways down the middle of the road.
Shannon Dean, 30, a King Middle School teacher, and her one-year-old and four-year-old children were traveling east on U.S. 68, when their GMC Denali collided with Kelty’s car, Blanton said.
Kelty was not wearing a seatbelt and apparently died upon impact, he said.
Dean and her children were sent to Haggin Memorial Hospital with minor injuries and later released.
Blanton said wet road conditions contributed to the collision by causing Kelty’s car to slide when she overcorrected. He also acknowledged that police work a lot of wrecks on that curve, but said a state engineer was on scene Friday night and advised that there was nothing technically wrong with the road.
Though KSP troopers deal with fatalities often, Blanton said even they were short of words Friday as they informed Sheriff Kelty of his daughter’s death.
“You still don’t know what to say,” he said.
Hutchins said the sheriff was surrounded by family and friends grappling with the news Friday night.
“Like any parent, he’s devastated,” she said.
The sparse crowd at the football game appeared to be struggling with the news as well. Most of Alyssa’s fellow cheerleaders had gathered at a team member’s home, leaving the sidelines empty, and many students and parents were absent from the bleachers.
Hutchins said that the light crowd may demonstrate how many people Alyssa touched with her happy-go-lucky attitude and giving spirit.
“She was always, ‘What can I do to help you,?’” Hutchins said. “It was always about the other person. I can’t even recall a situation when she didn’t get along with other people.”
Hutchins noted that with such a tragic loss, student’s will feel sadness not just right now, but weeks from now, months from now, a year from now when they start their senior year without Alyssa’s bright smile.
“She always had a smile on her face,” Hutchins said. “Always.”
Along with Sheriff Kelty, Alyssa’s survivors include her mother, Lisa Cambron of Lexington, and step-mother Missy Kelty.
Kelty’s maternal grandmother is Shirley Ann Cambron of Springfield. Her paternal grandmother is Barbara Kelty of Springfield.
Kelty’s parents are originally from Washington County.
Funeral services were on Tuesday at the Southside Christian Church. Burial was at the Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg.
See the complete obituary on page A6.
This story was reprinted with permission from The Danville Advocate-Messenger.