By Lorien Crow
Late Sunday night, Richard Beebe changed his Facebook profile photo to a picture of his daughter, Meghan. It was a day after she was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Greenwich.
The photo of the 21-year-old quickly garnered more than 100 likes and dozens of comments from friends who extended their sympathy and support.“So many are thinking of you Rich, grieving with you and reaching out for you to hug you, hold you & lift you up,” writes one person.
Mr. Beebe is a faculty member at Westover School in Middlebury, as was his late wife Eileen. Meghan graduated from the school in 2010 and went on to study at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she majored in sociology.
Ann Pollina, Head of School at the Westover, issued the following statement Monday:
"There are no words to convey the heartbreak we all feel at the senseless loss of this beautiful young life. All we can do is try to honor Meghan's strength, joy, courage and caring by recognizing that her life is, in the words of Cicero, placed in the memory of the living. We owe this world and those who remain in it an extra measure of our mindful love and attention to compensate for all that Meghan daily offered to those around her."
While at Westover, Meghan took AP Environmental Science and AP art classes. In 2010, her photography was included in a show at the school’s Schumacher Gallery.Meghan was also among a handful of student volunteers that year who gave a community service chapel talk. In her talk, which is posted on the school’s website, Meghan spoke of her involvement in Relay for Life.
“In my 7th grade year, the fall of 2004, my mother was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. In June 2005 she defeated the cancer after a series of chemotherapies, harsh medicines, and endless doctor appointments. That summer my mother was supported by a team of her students from Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, CT, in Relay for Life, an event run by the American Cancer Society,” Meghan said.
"During the Relay,” she continued, “there is a survivor lap, where those who have survived cancer, or are still battling it, wear a survivor sash and walk proudly around the camp, arms entwined with their loved ones. My mother walked around that lap surrounded by her students and co-workers with her big goofy smile and singing loudly along with the song (a song that she really didn’t know).”
Meghan’s mother succumbed to cancer in 2007.
“That’s why last summer, I and several other students from Westover volunteered in helping run the Tri-Bury Connecticut Relay for Life,” Meghan said. “Relay for Life is a time when everyone, most complete strangers, can come and be together in compassion, love, and – above all – hope. The word ‘hope’ is written everywhere, all over the signs, t-shirts, pendants, and sometimes even people’s faces. For me, Relay for Life is a truly beautiful display of humankind at its best, when we can come together to fight fear and uncertainty with strangers and friends, and enjoy our blessings of life while thinking of those whom we may have lost.”
Now, with Meghan gone, her friends are sharing their memories of her. A few posted their thoughts and prayers on Twitter:
- Katie Stevens, a Middlebury resident and American Idol alum, wrote: "Heaven was given a beautiful angel last night, my childhood friend Meghan Beebe. Keeping her loved ones in my prayers. We will miss you."
- Jen Downes said she was grateful to Meghan, who "helped me move in Freshman year, introduced me to The Office , and inspired me in photo."
- Danielle Stratton said Meghan was "the best prom date a girl could ever have" and sent "love always to the Beebe family."
- “To my beloved friend Meghan Beebe, You will truly be missed and justice will be served. God is lucky to have you with him.” wrote Allie DiMeco.
Police Have Suspect in Custody
Greenwich Police have arrested a man in relation to the accident. The 26-year-old suspect, a resident alien from Russia who works at a restaurant near the scene of the crash, reportedly hit Meghan while she was retrieving items from her car in a parking lot in the Byram section of town.
A friend of Meghan's tried to stop the suspect, police said, but he drove off and dragged her body three blocks. Police arrested him late Sunday night when his vehicle was spotted back in the parking lot where the accident occurred.
Meghan: 'We Do Not Have to Live In Our Fears'
In her speech about Relay, Meghan opened it this way:
“I don’t need to tell you all about the number of people that are affected by cancer every year; every one of you knows someone affected by it, or who has it or had it. And I think that I can say we all believe that the chilling uncertainty of cancer would not seem to be something to evoke optimism and faith in ourselves. But I honestly believe that I have witnessed an event that proves that even in our weakest and most fragile moments, we do not have to live in our fears.”