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'She enjoyed life'

Pa. accident victim remembered

Pa. accident victim remembered

January 01, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, PA. - Stephanie Zeis, a 2007 graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School, was killed Sunday night when her car slid on snow-covered Interstate 81 in Cumberland County, Pa., and rolled into a sign, Pennsylvania State Police said.

The Cumberland County Coroner's office listed the cause of death as multiple traumatic injuries in a news release about the 9:15 p.m. accident in Penn Township.

"I can still just picture her smile and her attitude being positive. When I heard the news, I - I still can't get out of my head her smile," said Jamie Richardson, who coached Stephanie's high school softball team.

Mourner after mourner arrived at the door of the Zeis home Monday, each one repeating how much 18-year-old Stephanie will be missed.

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Softball and animals were the young woman's passions, according to her father, Doug Zeis.

"She enjoyed life," he said.

Doug Zeis said his daughters did everything together and described 19-year-old Tiffany as the "best friend in the world" to Stephanie.

Both Zeis girls were part of a "core group that built our program," leading to three consecutive division titles and a 2007 Mid-Penn Conference Championship, Richardson said.

"Stephanie was a building block of our success the past three years," he said.

The outfielder and first base player "was always upbeat, positive, coachable and very pleasant," Richardson said.

"She was a good friend to the underclassmen, upperclassmen and led by example, I felt," he said.

The coach said he called teammates on Monday and repeatedly encountered shock over the passing of "someone so young with the world in front of them."

Doug Zeis, too, questioned how to explain the death of a child just starting her adult life.

Stephanie went to grooming school and was working at PetSmart, her father said. He described her love of small animals as something that began when she was a toddler.

When volunteering with the Humane Society of Washington County, Stephanie developed a special connection with a black pit bull. The dog always looked up to her with pleading eyes as Stephanie did chores in the kennels. It wasn't long before the teenager was asking to bring the animal home, her dad said.

"As soon as I heard 'pit bull,' I said 'absolutely not,'" Doug Zeis said.

Stephanie's pleading resulted in a meet-and-greet with the dog at the shelter, and at its conclusion, "Lucy" was in the family's vehicle for the return trip to their home on McClanahan Road. Doug Zeis said he has since learned that his youngest daughter's instincts were right about the pet.

"This dog does nothing but lick the rabbits, lick the cats and sleep in bed with everyone," Doug Zeis said.

He said Stephanie's love of animals was one that effortlessly translated to people.

"She would do anything for anybody. If someone was down on their luck, she'd be there for them or give them $10," Doug Zeis said.

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