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Suddenly, another heartbreak for family

Car crash takes life of woman, 21, not long after mother dies

By Maki Becker and Sandra Tan NEWS STAFF REPORTERS
Updated: 01/25/08 6:46 AM

Kelly Rae Voltz was killed near family home.

A patch of black ice on an S-curve in the middle of East-West Park Road robbed an already grieving Grand Island family of another one of its own.

Kelly Rae Voltz, a 21-year-old nurse’s assistant who was working two jobs, died Wednesday morning when she lost control of her car and slammed into trees off the road — just a mile from her family home near Buckhorn Island State Park.

Grand Island firefighters used the Jaws of Life to extricate her from her car, but their efforts could not save the young woman. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

State troopers said that she was not wearing a seat belt, but they also told the family that it probably would not have saved her life because her 1992 Toyota Camry hit the trees from the side.

“The only comfort is, she died instantly,” said her heartbroken grandmother, Cathy Regensdorfer.

Voltz’s death was a terrible blow for her family, not only because of its unexpected nature, but because the young woman’s mother, Teresa, died of lung cancer in March, at age 48.

“With my mom, we knew,” explained Kelly’s younger brother, Jason, 18, a student at Medaille College. “She was a ticking time bomb. It could have happened any minute or in two years. But we were expecting it. But this just came as a shock.”

The two deaths have left the family devastated.

“You bury the old, not the young,” said Regensdorfer, who is left facing the unimaginable sadness of the loss of her daughter and now a granddaughter, too.

Kelly’s father, Jeffrey Voltz, fought his own battle with cancer and subsequent life-threatening infections.

“We almost lost him,” Regensdorfer said.

But he has been in good health lately and had been working hard to take care of his four children.

Jason Voltz was at his grandmother’s home in Buffalo on Wednesday morning when he was jolted from his sleep by the sound of a scream.

“I knew something was up,” Jason Voltz said.

It was Kaitlin Voltz, Kelly’s 19-year-old sister, calling. Kaitlin, a Buffalo Jills cheerleader and student at Erie Community College, had been at the family’s Grand Island home when troopers came to the door with the terrible news.

“She said, ‘Some guys just walked into the house,’ ” Jason Voltz recounted. “My grandmother said to call the police. She said, ‘They are saying they are the police.’ ”

Family members believe that Kelly Voltz was headed to one of her two jobs when she crashed. She was on her way to make a home visit to an elderly Alzheimer’s patient, they said. Her second job was on the late shift at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda.

“She works from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.,” her brother said. “She was always a hard worker.”

Jason Voltz believes that his sister forgot to put on her seat belt that morning because she was tired and rushing to get to her patient.

“She was probably just in a hurry,” he said. “She usually oversleeps.”

Regensdorfer said that it was possible her granddaughter was reaching for her seat belt when the accident happened. There has been speculation that she might have been on her cell phone, but investigators found her cell phone inside her purse. Troopers also told the family that it was also possible she was swerving to avoid hitting a deer. Tracks were found near the smashed car, and dead deer are often seen on the side of the road in the area.

Regensdorfer said family members were concerned that Kelly was working too hard. “We were worried she was going to burn out,” she said. They had been urging her to get a nursing degree so that she could work just one job.

Jason Voltz said the only thing more important to his sister than her work was her loved ones.

“She would always put her family before herself with everything,” he said. “If someone needed a ride somewhere or if they needed a hand doing laundry, she was more than willing to do that kind of stuff.”

Kelly was a loving person who had a way with the elderly, Regensdorfer said. Her granddaughter vowed to take care of her when she got frail.

“I’m going to take care of you, Grammy,” she’d tell her, Regensdorfer said.

As news spread Wednesday, family and friends converged on the Voltz home.

Gretchen Pike, who lives next door to the Voltzes, said Jeffrey Voltz sent his daughter over to her house to apologize for all the commotion from the cars and mourners at their house. “It’s very sad,” she said. “They’re all good kids, and they don’t deserve all this. . . . They had a rough time of it since the mother died.”

They had all just had a bittersweet Christmas — their first without Teresa Voltz. “It was very, very hard,” Regensdorfer said. “But we were all together.”

Thursday, Jeffrey Voltz went about the tasks of arranging her funeral and ordering flowers.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Stephen Church, 1151 Baseline Road, Grand Island, the same church where her mother’s service was held.