The life of one of South Umpqua High School’s best former athletes and students was cut short Wednesday afternoon by a car accident near Corvallis.
Chelsea Denea Duffy, 22, of Myrtle Creek was set to graduate from Oregon State University this year and planned to go to medical school. She was a single mother to daughter Zeza Duffy-Bbayaga, 18 months.
Duffy was a 2008 graduate of South Umpqua High School, where she was a four-sport athlete in the top 10 percent of her class.
She was killed in a three-vehicle accident on Highway 34 about two miles east of Corvallis.
Duffy was driving her 2004 Pontiac Vibe east at 2:45 p.m. when a 1995 GMC Suburban driven by Valorie Carrigan, 35, of Blodgett attempted to change lanes in front of Duffy’s car, according to Oregon State Police Sgt. Eric Judah.
The left-rear section of Carrigan’s car struck the right-front section of Duffy’s car, causing Duffy to lose control. Her car crossed into the westbound left lane and collided head-on with a 2003 Jeep Liberty driven by Larry Dodge, 52, of Shedd.
Duffy was pronounced dead at the scene.
Dodge was transported to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis with serious injuries. His condition was not available today. Carrigan was not injured.
Oregon State Police are continuing to investigate the case.
Chelsea Duffy’s parents, Carla and Bill Duffy, a Roseburg High School health teacher, described their daughter this morning as smart, strong and fun, with a bright future ahead of her.
“She liked to joke and be with her family and her friends. She was a really good mom. She was really strong,” Carla Duffy said through tears this morning.
South Umpqua High School Principal Kristi McGee, who has known Chelsea Duffy since the 22-year-old was a little girl, said she came from a large family well known in the South County for scholarship and athleticism. Her youngest brother, Trevor, 16, is a sophomore at South Umpqua High.
While at South Umpqua High School, Chelsea Duffy was all-league in soccer, basketball and track. She was a district champion in the high jump and also played softball.
“This is just a tragic loss,” McGee said. “She was bright, funny and the kind of kid that’s a ray of sunshine to everyone around her.”
William Duffy, 20, of Redding, Calif., was closest to his older sister in age and said he always admired her.
“She was someone I could always look up to. She was a great athlete, a great student,” he said. Though younger, he was much taller at 6 foot, 9 inches and called her his “little big sis.”
Family members describe Chelsea Duffy as a wonderful mother.
“She made sure her daughter had everything she needed and then some,” William Duffy said.
Barbara Duffy, 24, of Walnut Creek, Calif., said she and her sister had matching tattoos saying “love” on their fingers because they felt they would always have each other even if they never found anybody else. Duffy said her sister was beautiful inside and out.
“She cared a lot about people. She loved her daughter so much. She was a really, really fun person and anybody knew it who spent time with her. She loved to smile and laugh,” she said.
An older sister, Rose Franklin, 29, of Anderson, Calif., said her sister wanted to be a neurosurgeon and earned a 4.0 grade point average most quarters even while caring for her daughter.
“She was so fun and energetic and full of life. She always made everyone smile,” Franklin said.
In addition to Rose, Trevor, Barbara and William, Chelsea is survived by sister Felecia Duffy, 31, of Myrtle Creek and brother Richard Duffy, 18, of Myrtle Creek. Her grandmother, Rosalie Duffy, also lives in Myrtle Creek.
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or email@example.com.