Sunday morning, Meredith Buscher, 22, learned how to cook an omelet from her dad.
“He makes the best omelets,” said her sister-in-law Christina.
Learning how to cook was something Meredith had been interested in lately, her brother Jimmy said, and she had been getting a few tips from her family. They even bought her a crock pot for Christmas to help her cook easy meals.
Meredith was visiting Richmond from her home in Cincinnati, where she worked as a recruiter for a technology staffing firm.
She had plans to spend Saturday night out to celebrate a friend’s birthday, but she wasn’t feeling well and spent the night eating ice cream sundaes and watching movies with Christina and Jimmy.
“Thinking back now, I’m so grateful for that time,” Christina said.
On Sunday, she spent the day curled up on the couch watching the winter Olympics and later went to church with Christina and her 2-year-old nephew, Weston.
Christina recalled that at the end of the service, Weston sang song after song to his beloved “Aunt Mo,” as he called her.
Meredith later stopped by a friend’s house before getting on Interstate 75 to head back to Cincinnati, but she would never make it home.
An Indiana man, who is now facing nine felony charges in addition to operating a vehicle under the influence, lost control of his vehicle on 1-75 near the 91.5 mile marker a short distance in front of Meredith.
Although the accident remains under investigation, her family believes Meredith may have come upon the scene suddenly and bumped into one of the vehicles involved in the accident. Meredith’s vehicle sustained minimal damage.
Meredith immediately called her parents to say that a car ahead of her had been in an accident and that she wrecked trying to avoid it.
Her last words were, “I’m okay, but I’ve got to go.”
Jeffrey Campbell, 30, of Louisville, also was at the scene of the wreck.
Without the final accident report, the family is uncertain why Meredith and Campbell got out of their vehicles. However, the accident occurred in a spot difficult for oncoming traffic to see, police said. Another driver swerved to avoid hitting the vehicles, lost control and struck both Meredith and Campbell.
Campbell was pronounced dead at the scene, but Meredith was transported to the University of Kentucky Medical Center where she died from her injuries.
Meredith’s family made their way to the scene of the accident Sunday, “not knowing our child had been hit by a car,” said her dad, James. Although they were told Meredith had been sent to UK, her family assumed the hospital visit was taken as a precaution since just moments before, Meredith had called to say she was okay.
Her brother Jimmy, who is in his last semester at the UK School of Medicine, was working at the hospital Sunday night and was waiting for his sister in the emergency room, assuming that she was fine, James said.
Meredith was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
The Meredith we remember
Meredith and her family moved to Richmond in 1994 when she was 3. Her mother’s family, the Shepherds, moved to Richmond in 1959 where they owned Shepherd’s Billiard and Lunch.
As a little girl, Meredith was always playful and happy, the Buschers said. She would run around her neighborhood, play sports and hang out with her friends.
One time, Meredith made up her mind that she would be a cheerleader, but after taking lessons, she decided she wanted to play basketball instead, said her mom, Darlene.
She loved to perform. When she was 12, she practiced constantly until she learned every verse of “Amazing Grace” and played it in front of her church congregation. Another time, she and a friend learned a Christmas song in sign language, her mom said. “We were so proud of her.”
Meredith loved visiting the elderly in nursing homes and playing piano for them. She also enjoyed Halloween, smiling back at the smiling faces of those who gave candy to her, her parents said.
“The thing that everyone noticed about her first, and always remembered, was her smile,” Jimmy said.
That’s also what her former teachers at Madison Central High School remember the most, too.
“I don’t have one memory of her without that big beautiful smile on her face,” said Meredith’s math teacher, Melanie Gray. “When I think of Meredith, I remember her as being kind to everyone, not just her circle of friends.”
Meredith had a way of making everyone she came in contact with feel special and was the type of person that “we should all strive to be,” Gray said.
“To know Meredith was to love her. She had it all: beauty, brains and most importantly, the heart of an angel,” her teacher said. “She left her mark on me and all those that were blessed to know her. There will never be another like her.”
When recalling her favorite memories of Meredith, Spanish teacher Paula Adkins first mentioned her smile, too.
“She always had a smile on her face. She loved to make jokes and make everyone laugh, even at her own expense,” Adkins said.
Meredith was “nice to everybody,” she said, which was a “unique quality” in a teenager.
“She was mature beyond her high school years, but as silly as can be,” Adkins recalled.
When she heard of Meredith’s passing, she said the first memory that popped in her head came from Advanced Placement Spanish, which Adkins has taught for 11 years.
Meredith and a group of friends wrote a rap about AP Spanish to “Crank That” by Soulja Boy, a song that debuted in 2007 and spent weeks on the top of music charts.
As far as she can remember, the project (which Adkins has recorded on VHS) was not even an assignment, but something Meredith and her friends wanted to do.
At Madison Central on Wednesday, Meredith’s high school volleyball coach Elizabeth Morrow was trying to decide how she would honor her former player.
Traditionally, funds are raised for a cancer organization during the annual volleyball game between Central and Madison Southern. This year, Morrow will propose that the money go to the “Meredith Fund,” which her family said is being set up for a scholarship to be awarded to a less-fortunate student who wants to “fulfill their dreams and study abroad” (look to info box for details on how to donate).
Morrow said her favorite memory of Meredith was a testament to how kind-hearted she was.
After competing in the Bluegrass State Games one year, the volleyball team convinced her to have a sleepover at her house, the coach said.
Around 15 girls came over to make homemade warm-up jerseys, cook out, play games and watch movies.
Nearing 2 a.m., Morrow finally made her way to bed as the girls stayed up to watch movies.
Around 4 a.m., Morrow said she heard “a horrendous scream, like someone was hurt” and she rushed to the room to see what happened.
When she got there, Meredith was “crying hysterically” while some of the other girls were crying and laughing too. All Meredith could say was “he died” and “he’s hurt.”
Morrow looked at the television screen and saw that the girls were watching the 1997 film Titanic, in which protagonist Jack Dawson dies of hypothermia in the frozen ocean water as his love, Rose, lays on wooden wreckage, only buoyant enough for one person.
“Meredith, how many times have you seen this?” Morrow asked her.
“Five times,” she replied.
“Well, Jack drowns every time,” Morrow joked.
“As their coach, these girls just don’t leave; they’re always in my heart,” Morrow said Wednesday while fighting back tears.
She said a former teammate of Meredith’s, Taylor Roberts, sent her a text this week that said, “Meredith went to Heaven with her wings. She died trying to help others.”
While at Central, Meredith also was on the softball team, a member of the Beta Club, National Council on Youth Leadership, Spanish Honor Society, National Honor Society, Youth Leadership Madison County and 4-H Teen Leadership.
She also was active with her youth group at First United Methodist Church.
A promising life cut short
Meredith met her boyfriend, Will Green, in September 2012 through mutual friends in college.
“She’s been the brightest part of every day of my life since then,” he said.
He remembered she loved live music and that it didn’t matter what kind of music it was.
It was impossible not to have a good time with her, he said.
The thing he loved the most about Meredith was “her ability to make your day better, not just with her words or actions, but also just by seeing how much she seemed to be enjoying her day (even if sometimes she wasn’t),” he said. “This always made me feel better. Not only while she was with me, but also after she left.”
Meredith was a recruiter at Insight Global in Cincinnati, which provides information technology staffing solutions to businesses. She “loved helping people find jobs,” her mom said.
The family was told the company’s Cincinnati branch closed Thursday afternoon and today to allow their employees to attend Meredith’s visitation and funeral.
“She chose a company to work for that was as compassionate as she was,” her father said. “Even though she had only worked there nine months, corporate management is flying in representatives to honor her.”
Based on their daughter’s personality and compassion for others, her parents said, “we have no doubt Meredith was killed trying to help someone in need.”
With her church youth group, Meredith participated in work projects in Appalachia, where she learned to paint and shingle a roof. She wore tall rain boots to protect her legs from snakes as she helped cut tall weeds.
As a teenager, she spent the night in the hospital with a family friend, June, who was dying. Meredith stayed with her when she passed. She told her mother she just didn’t want June to be alone.
Meredith was close to her Aunt Helen, who lost her only child at birth.
“She stepped in and allowed her (Helen) to experience through Meredith what she was never fortunate enough to have with her own daughter,” Darlene said.
Meredith once rescued a kitten that was being attacked by several dogs “and brought the flea-ridden kitten into our home,” James said. “We told her we couldn’t have another animal, but she gave the kitten a bath, and while doing so, discovered it had a deformed leg. Molly (as the cat was named) is now 14 and very happy.”
While Darlene spent the weekend caring for a friend dying of cancer, Meredith came to Richmond about a week ago to watch over her grandmother, Hazel “Nanny” Shepherd, 95, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 14 years ago.
“Meredith was a huge help over the years with helping care for her grandmother,” Darlene said. “She loved her so much.”
Many times, Meredith would come home from college to visit on the weekends and sleep with Nanny.
“She cherished every moment she had with her,” Darlene said.
While attending UK, Meredith was a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority, which was active in numerous fundraisers for charity.
She was a defensive back for her sorority flag football team, and her dad was always proud to say, “My daughter plays football at UK.”
One family member described Meredith as a girl who could slide into second base and skin her knees in the afternoon and that night dress in an evening gown and look like a beauty queen.
Meredith studied business and marketing at UK and earned a minor in Spanish. During that time, she studied abroad in Costa Rica, where she could practice her Spanish.
While in Costa Rica, she volunteered at a local elementary school where she taught children English. She also spent time volunteering at an orphanage.
She loved her Costa Rican host family and was planning a return visit, James said.
One of Meredith’s ambitions was to see the world, so along with Costa Rica, the 22-year-old had visited Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Italy and Switzerland.
The Buschers said they woke up Tuesday morning and realized that Meredith’s latest travel adventure “has taken her to her ultimate destination: Heaven. It is a comforting thought to know, once our work is done here on earth, she will be waiting for us to join her.”
Crystal Wylie can be reached at email@example.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.
How to donate to Meredith's scholarship
To honor Meredith, her family is setting up a scholarship so less-fortunate children can fulfill their dream of studying abroad. Until the trust is established, contributions can be made out to James Buscher with “Meredith Fund” written in the memo. Mail donations to: Chase Bank, 405 Leigh Way Drive, Richmond, Ky 40475. Chase Bank will deposit the contribution into a savings account designated for the scholarship.