Three-car accident claims the life of AuGres teen

Family, friends, classmates mourn the death of “All-around Country Girl”


ARENAC TOWNSHIP — So many things were going according to plan for Ashley Irwin, 17, as she prepared for her senior year at AuGres-Sims High School, which made her unexpected, unforeseen death due to a head-on collision on Aug. 28, only days before she would begin her final year, even harder to swallow.

“Everything in her world was just turning perfect and this happened,” said Ashley’s aunt Shirley Wegener, of Kawkawlin. “The coach just made her captain of the volleyball team. … She took some awards in the (Ogemaw County) fair.”

According to Wegener, Ashley’s awards from the fair were in the horses category, as Ashley loved grooming, riding and taking care of her horses.

But horses weren’t her only interests.

“We loved the sun,” said Ashley’s mother Cindy Irwin. “We would just float in the pool and hang out.”

Wegner, who says she was very close to Ashley as she was growing up, says Ashley also loved going to the beach, hanging out with friends, shopping, and deer hunting.

“She got a big buck last year,” Wegener said, adding Ashley also enjoyed drinking Capri Sun and eating bowls of Captain Crunch. “She loved eating.”

Cindy Irwin, Ashley’s mother, a Mary Kay sales distributor, Ashley shared an enormous interest in Cindy’s work.

“She was my little Mary Kay girl,” Cindy said, adding she would often bring home boxes of products which Ashley loved rummaging through. “Next thing I knew I’d have an empty box. … She loved hanging out with me and doing Mary Kay.”

Cindy added Ashley was waiting anxiously to turn 18 so she too could sell Mary Kay and she also planned on attending Michigan State University to become a veterinarian.

But more than anything, Wegener says she’ll remember who Ashley was, not only what she liked.

“Ashley’s a fun-loving kid,” Wegener said. “She always had a pretty smile. … She always had a hug for me.”

“I could write a book about her,” Cindy said. “She was my baby. … She was everybody’s best friend.”

And while Ashley’s family, including her father, Daryl Irwin; siblings, Emily, Chelsea and James; grandparents, Herman and Mable Meyer; and uncle, Bob Wegener (Shirley’s husband) mourn the loss of a sister, daughter, granddaughter and niece, AuGres-Sims High School (AGS) students are also dealing with the shock of returning to school with one less classmate.

“It’s a horrible, horrible thing that happened,” said AGS Superintendent Gary Marchel. “It’s been tough in particular for the seniors and the high schoolers on the volleyball team.”

Marchel says additional social workers have been brought in to help with any students struggling through the loss. Ashley’s teammates from volleyball have also been helping remember Ashley, as Marchel says the girls on the team made ribbons in Ashley’s favorite colors, lime green and blue, and handed them out during AGS’ first home football game on Thursday, Aug. 28 only hours after the accident that claimed their friend and teammate’s life.

But more than ribbons will be used to help remember Ashley.

“We are closing school [Sept. 3] so that staff and students can attend the funeral,” Marchel said in an interview on Sept. 2.

Ashley’s funeral was 11 a.m. at the Full Gospel Lighthouse in AuGres on Wednesday, Sept. 3.

The Aug. 28 accident, which occurred on US-23 at approximately 11 a.m. also involved two other drivers and vehicles. According to a press release from the Arenac County Sheriff’s Department, a semi truck in the northbound lane, the same lane Ashley was driving in, driven by John Steyma (age and location unavailable) was also involved. Sheriff Ronald Bouldin says to avoid hitting the semi truck, Ashley veered across the centerline and collided with a van driven by Jeheova Calleja, of Turner.

The press release says Steyma was uninjured and released from the scene of the accident and Calleja was transported to St. Mary’s of Michigan Standish Hospital and the transferred to St. Mary’s of Michigan Saginaw Hospital for treatment. No further information was available.

Besides the Arenac County Sheriff’s Department, the Sterling Fire Department, the Standish Fire Department, Arenac County Mobile Medical response, Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribal Police and the Michigan State Police all responded to the accident.


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