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Crash victim could 'make friends with everybody'

January 24, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

SMITHSBURG

andrews@herald-mail.com

Tracey Renee Leather was on her way back from seeing friends in Frederick, Md., early Sunday when her car went off the road and rolled over.

A helicopter flew her to Washington County Hospital, where she was pronounced dead about 4:20 a.m., according to Maryland State Police.

Her father, Sidney Leather, said the gathering was connected to a wedding Tracey was supposed to be in; a close friend she knew since elementary school was getting married.

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Police said Tracey Leather, 26, of Jefferson Boulevard, east of Hagerstown, was driving west on Interstate 70.

At about 1:50 a.m., near Ridge Road, her car went into the median. Police said she overcorrected, sending her 2002 Honda Civic into a rock wall on the right shoulder of the road.

She was thrown from her car when it rolled over, police said.

Sidney Leather said Tracey was alone and the circumstances surrounding the crash aren't certain.

A police report said, "Alcohol and driver error are the contributing factors for this accident." Sgt. Robert Calo said the exact role alcohol played won't be known for two or three weeks, when results of an autopsy are known.

Tracey Leather graduated from Smithsburg High School in 1997.

The last few years, she worked for United Parcel Service as a supervisor, according to her family.

Her cousin, Beth Domenico, said Leather seemed committed to UPS.

But she also promised to rearrange her daytime work shifts so she could help Hagerstown Community College's women's volleyball team.

Domenico is the coach. Three years ago, she asked Leather, who played volleyball in high school, to be the team's manager and Leather agreed.

Domenico said Leather was quiet, so she didn't know how she'd fit in with the team. Right away, though, things clicked.

"You could put her in a room with strangers and, in five minutes, she'd make friends with everybody," Sidney Leather said.

"She would do anything for anybody ... She treated the girls like gold," Domenico said.

Sidney Leather said his daughter, an avid golfer, worked for five years at Yingling's Golf Center, not far from her home. He said owners David and Judy Grier told the Leathers it was like they lost a daughter.

Sidney Leather said his daughter, while growing up, wanted to be like her big brother, Eric, who is 32.

She also had at least two distinct knacks, her father said.

One was a sense of time. No matter where she was, she could give someone an estimate of when she'd arrive, then be right on the mark, he said.

Another was laughter and an accompanying smile. Sidney Leather called her a jokester, the person in a group who could provoke laughter, if anyone could.

"She was really a great person," he said. "She kept her mother and I young ... If Tracey was here, it was going to be exciting."

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