Last week, a fiery car collision near Bishop, California left three dead, including 35-year-old Wendy Rice of Corona, a Riverside cheerleading coach. Rice was driving one of three vans carrying cross-country team members from Riverside’s California Baptist University who were on their way to a training camp in Mammoth. Rice was killed after a sport-utility vehicle traveling south on U.S. Highway 395 lost control and smashed into one of the three vans, bursting into flames. In total, three people were killed and 12 injured in the tragic accident.
Nearly a week after the August 9th crash, Disney enthusiast forums, such as Laughing Place and MiceChat, have revealed Rice was also a previous employee at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
MiceChat Moderator Christi Andersen worked with Wendy for about six months in the Disney Photographic Imaging Department, known to guests as Photopass. Although Christi left shortly thereafter to pursue a career in education, she remembers Wendy well. Christi had a lot in common with her as they were close in age, married with children, and both cheerleading coaches. She even remembers Wendy talking about the news when she got the job at Cal Baptist.
“We had a lot of things in common and got along well. She was always fun to work with and was easy to talk to. She was wonderful and very professional with the guests. She took her job seriously, but had fun with it too,” Christi said. “Even though I hadn’t seen her in some time, I literally went numb when I found out about the accident. My prayers are with her family.”
Wendy Rice’s family has created a special Facebook page to share memories, pictures, and personal messages — In Loving Memory of Wendy Rice Hutchison. Cathy Holden, Wendy’s posted a beautiful tribute note to her daughter, which provides additional insight to who her daughter really was. An excerpt from her note reads,
“She was energetic and oh so busy always. Just look at her planner and all you saw was filled squares with all the things she had to do, places she had to go, people she needed to see. She loved her family passionately. She loved all the girls she coached over the years. I always told her I would not be able to deal with all those hormones and admired her for doing such a good job with her girls. She also loved photography and was fantastic at it. She knew just what to do and say to get that picture she wanted. She was very creative. She created her first collage of pictures for me when she was about 12 years old. I still have it hanging on my bedroom wall.”
According to the Facebook memorial page, Disney was a big part of Wendy’s life as she not only worked there, she even met her husband Jason at Disneyland around 17 years ago. Jason posted a personal note and tribute as well, which in part reads,
“The morning of her passing, she left early than me for work. As I was leaving she asked if I could see her before she left for the trip, I was headed in the opposite direction and didn’t stop. Now wishing I had. No regrets, we stayed on the phone for a long time talking. I just write this to remind you to hold your love one, and would 5 min make that much difference? She’s gone now, and we miss her.”
For those interested in sending flowers or offering help, the Rice family has requested monetary donations in lieu of flowers. Donations can be sent to:
c/o Partners Federal Credit Union
PO Box 10000
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Include Wendy Rice x-9206 in the memo portion of the check
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