Deirdre Lynne Mackey, 48, and Grace Misztal, 12, died on Christmas Day when their car lost traction on snowy Highway 26 and crossed into oncoming traffic, police say

PHOTO COURTESY OF JASPER LOTUS HAWKINS - Deirdre Lynne Mackey and her daughter Grace Misztal are shown in a recent family photo posted to Facebook. REVIEW PHOTO: CLAIRE HOLLEY - Photos of Deirdre Lynne Mackey and Grace Misztal cover a display inside Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Parish on Wednesday. Prayer cards featuring a painting by Tomasz Misztal, Grace's father, were also distributed to mourners. Mourners gathered at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Parish on Wednesday to say goodbye to a Lake Oswego woman and her 12-year-old daughter who were killed on Christmas Day when their Nissan Versa lost traction and crossed into the path of an oncoming Subaru Outback on snowy Highway 26 in Wasco County.

Deirdre Lynne Mackey, 48, and her daughter, Lake Oswego Junior High sixth-grader Grace Misztal, were remembered by family and friends as "angels on Earth who embraced love to the fullest extent and filled every day with celebration."

People of all ages sat solemnly at the memorial, including Misztal's classmates and friends, family members, community members and members of their church family at Our Lady of the Lake, where Mackey and Misztal attended services for many years.

Father John Kerns led the service with a theme of trusting in God and healing through Him. He spoke directly to Misztal's friends and the many other children in the pews.

"As an adult, I am so sorry that you have to grow up faster than we would ever want you to," he said. "You will always carry her in your hearts through the memories you have of her."

Kerns said that if this tragedy were to befall anyone else, Mackey would be the first person to step in and help. "She had a heart for service, and I am inspired by her," he said.

PHOTO COURTESY OF JASPER LOTUS HAWKINS - Deirdre Lynne Mackey and her daughter Grace Misztal in a recent photo posted by their family to Facebook. 'Our family is grieving and desperate to feel the warmth they wrapped around us,' Mackey's sister, Jasper Lotus Hawkins, wrote.He emphasized that if anyone needs help coping with the tragic loss, the Our Lady of the Lake church community would be there with open arms, just as Mackey and Misztal were for others.

The mother and daughter were pronounced dead at the scene of the Christmas Day accident on Highway 26. The driver of the Subaru was identified as Portland resident Darrow Geordan Rupp, 41; he and his passenger, 39-year-old Maria Suzanne Veltman, were transported to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries and have since been released.

The two-vehicle crash, which was reported to the Oregon State Police at around 3:25 p.m. on Dec. 25, closed Highway 26 just east of the intersection with Highway 35 for more than 10 hours while the OSP, ODOT and the Hoodland Fire Department responded.

Driving too fast for the conditions is being considered as a factor in the crash, although OSP Lt. Bill Fugate told The Review that an investigation is ongoing.

Mackey's sister, Jasper Lotus Hawkins, said the women were on their way to Bend to share Christmas with their family when the accident occurred.

"Deirdre and Grace shined brightly in their lives with joy and love and made this world a more beautiful place for all who knew them," Hawkins said. "We cannot imagine the world without them in it."

Mackey was a program manager and financial specialist with the American Federation of Teachers in Oregon. In a statement on the organization's website, her co-workers shared their thoughts about her.

"Deirdre was warm and caring, always willing to help a co-worker — or a stranger — at a moment's notice," the statement said. "Deirdre was a skilled project manager and all-around talent, committed to social justice and the union movement. She was our friend. Deirdre and Grace will be missed dearly."

Mackey also helped manage communications and organize meetings for Respond to Racism, a grassroots group that formed in Lake Oswego over the summer. Shava Feinstein, one of the organization's leaders, said Mackey "demonstrated warmth, compassion and kindness to her friends and members of the Lake Oswego community."

"Her compassion for humankind was recognized in her work to end racism in both the local and broader communities," said Feinstein, who added that Respond to Racism would devote part of its next meeting on Jan. 8 to remembering Mackey. "Words cannot begin to explain the loss we all feel as we process this tragedy."

Lake Oswego Junior High Principal Sara Deboy said crisis response teams were at Oak Creek Elementary and LOJ on Tuesday when students returned from winter break.

"Teams of counselors were available to speak with students and teachers who felt the need for support or who may have needed a quiet space," Deboy said. The school also covered one wall of the sixth-grade wing with paper so that students could share memories of their classmate, who was described as "the kind of student teachers love to have."

"Her enthusiasm and passion for life were infectious. Grace cared deeply for her friends and approached relationships with her teachers in the same loving manner," said Heather Nelson, Grace's Study Skills teacher. "Sloth, as she liked to be called because of her love for the animal, is a presence I wish the world could have experienced. Being her teacher, even for just a short time, brought me so much joy."

Heather Bryant, Grace's language arts and social studies teacher, said the sixth-grader "had a way of knowing just what those around her needed, whether it be a sloth picture on a rough day (a favorite of hers) or reaching out to a classmate that needed academic help or just a buddy to eat lunch with."

"Rarely have I encountered a sixth-grader so selfless and kind," Bryant said, a sentiment echoed by technology teacher Beckie Plaza.

"If you saw Grace from across the room, you would notice her long dark hair and serious expression. She would be focused on the task at hand, wanting to do her best — unless someone next to her needed help. Then Grace would patiently help her neighbor and give of her time, even if it meant she walked out of class with homework," Plaza said. "Grace was a champion to the underdog, a listener, a thinker, a dreamer. There was so much to Grace you would never know if you only saw her from across the room."

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Oregon Bravo Youth Orchestras and the Zoological Wildlife Conservation Center. Mackey's sister told The Review that Grace was inspired by sloths and had celebrated a recent birthday feeding the animals with her mom.

"Our family is grieving and desperate to feel the warmth they wrapped around us," Hawkins wrote on Facebook this week. "The outpouring of love from their many friends and beloveds is a comfort now, and we are grateful so many lives were enriched by the love of Deirdre and Grace during their time on Earth. Thank you all for the love you gave them in return. They sincerely loved their lives and treasured friends, and would want us to do the same."

Reporter Claire Holley contributed to this report. Contact Review Editor Gary M. Stein at 503-636-1281 ext. 102 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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