Birch Bay family starts year of projects to memorialize daughter killed in crash

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 21, 2014 

Eight months after 18-year-old Angela Roderick was killed in a head-on collision just three miles from her Birch Bay home, her mother, Char Roderick, is still working through the grieving process.

She dedicates much of her time each month to different projects in her daughter's name: 37 pairs of shoes and boots, donated to a church drive for the working poor; a baby's bottle filled with dollars and cents for every day, minute and hour her daughter has been gone, donated to a pregnancy clinic fundraiser; 22 beautiful gowns, steam cleaned by hand, given to a radio station's prom dress drive.

She's calling it the "12 months of Ang."

A June 6 groundbreaking started the largest project Char and her husband Tony Roderick have taken on for the year - the purchase and installation of professional batting cages for Meridian High School, where Angela played softball.

Just before 1 a.m. Oct. 22, 2013, Angela was driving home from a friend's house in Birch Bay fog so thick it wasn't possible to see more than about 75 feet.

Wesley Martin, 39, was driving a blue pickup truck east on Grandview Road when he tried to pass a semi truck hauling jet fuel near Kickerville Road. His pickup ran head-on into Angela's westbound red sedan, killing them both.

Martin had filled two prescriptions on Oct. 21, one for hydrocodone, another for clonazepam. Both are impairing drugs. Between them, the bottles were missing dozens of pills when Washington State Patrol troopers went through his belongings at the scene. A toxicology report would later show he had both drugs in his system.

Angela, who graduated in 2013, had played on the varsity softball team at Meridian each of her four years there.

She had wanted to get the team batting cages for her senior project, but she needed to pick something else after she realized the scope of the project, particularly how much funding would be needed.

Partly with insurance money from the crash, and largely due to donations, Angela's parents were able to finish the project for her as the largest undertaking of the "12 months of Ang."

After months of planning, the Rodericks gathered with a group of contractors and school officials June 6 to break ground for new, professional-grade batting cages to be installed behind Meridian's softball fields.

Everson-based Batting Cages Inc. donated part of the cost of the two-wide batting cage system. Cowden Gravel and Ready Mix gave a discount on the concrete, which was purchased by Smith Mechanical and Whitney Underground. Whitney donated labor and HD Fowler, Tony Roderick's employer, donated fabric to be laid under gravel the couple purchased.

The cages will be one of several upgrades to the school's softball fields before next season. The school has purchased an electronic scoreboard and plans to install windscreens and a net to catch fly balls by next spring.

Angela "was a very strong personality, very confident," said Kurt Harvill, the school's athletic director and assistant principal. "She looked out for everybody."

Often referred to by teammates and opponents as "the beast," people who knew Angela said she had a contagious laugh and an amazing sense of sportsmanship.

Girls from the Lynden and Ferndale softball teams reached out to Angela's parents after hearing about the crash. They shared stories of facing off against Angela - "One girl, the pitcher from Lynden, said, 'I never knew what to throw to (Angela),'" - and offered their condolences. The family donated a few hundred dollars to each team as part of their ongoing efforts to memorialize their daughter.

"There's so much negative you see in the world," Tony Roderick said. "So we hope (people) can take this, a story of losing a child, and see us turning it into a positive thing."

Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at 360-715-2274 or Samantha.Wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com.

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