Professors, friends share memories of late BYU students

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Hailee York (left) and Ashlyn Hanzon (right) with their friend, Lindsey Flake (center). York and Hanzon died in a car accident last Friday. (Lindsey Flake)

Their neighbors knew if they heard uncontrollable giggling, endless chatting and off pitch singing at two in the morning, it was probably just Ashlyn and Hailee.

Hailee York and Ashlyn Hanzon were friends, roommates and students who died in a car accident on Friday, Oct. 15. Ashlyn, a senior from Texas, was studying exercise science and wellness. Hailee, a senior from Utah, was studying counseling psychology and special education.

Ashlyn loved documenting the world around her. She was the designated photographer among her friends and even had a photography business in addition to being a student. She was “endlessly generous” as her friend Lindsey Flake recalled while explaining what kind of person Ashlyn was. Flake wore a sweater “borrowed” and adopted from Ashlyn as she spoke.

Ashlyn had a knack for bringing joy wherever she went, and to whomever she met.

“She had an incredible capacity for including others; she was the glue that bound our study abroad group together. Every student in our program felt connected in some way to Ashlyn,” English professor Jamin Rowan said, one of the co-directors of the London study abroad program.

While in London, Ashlyn organized after dinner dance parties for the professors’ children.

“Our family loved Ashlyn and were always so impressed with her incredibly positive attitude and the way she lifted others around her,” experience design and management professor Mat Deurden said.

Ashlyn’s ability to laugh, sing or dance through both good and difficult situations was a blessing to many.

“If you were with Ashlyn, you were having fun,” Rowan said.

Hailee was the kind of friend that wouldn’t let someone go grocery shopping alone.

“She was always the first to jump up and make you feel like someone truly wanted to be with you and hang out with you,” her friend Sydnee Gradeless said. “Because she was always the first one to offer to go with you, it never felt like pity.”

Described by her family as a peacemaker, Hailee was determined to make the people around her feel loved and included.

“She wanted everyone to be happy and get along, and tried to make sure each member of her family and friend groups were included and loved,” writes her family in her obituary.

Hailee was adventurous and always ready to go for a road trip, walk or hike. Her family describes how she loved adventure and “would take on any physical challenge her dad thought he wanted to try. She figured if he could do it, so could she, and she did.”

“Hailee was always willing to go along with my ridiculous ideas,” Flake said. “Every large rock we would come across on our frequent walks, I’d ask her to climb it with me and she’d immediately agree.”

Hailee liked to make people laugh. One day she and Flake decided to paint portraits of each other, and Hailee’s depiction of Flake was “fairly accurate, other than presenting me with blue skin and green hair,” Flake recalled.

Hailee’s family has asked for donations toward funeral costs in lieu of flowers. 

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