‘Saint walking this earth’ – Waterloo woman dies in crash

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Pictured is Mary Kinsey in her role as Ss. Peter & Paul Parish Picnic chairperson earlier this summer. Kinsey died in a vehicle crash last Tuesday night. 

The community was saddened by the tragic death of a Waterloo mother of two last week.

Emergency personnel responded shortly before 10 p.m. last Tuesday to the area of Route 158 at Douglas Road near Millstadt in St. Clair County for a two-vehicle crash that resulted in two fatalities – one of which was Mary Kinsey.

The Columbia Fire Department responded with a tanker truck and manpower to block traffic at Route 158 and Triple Lakes Road, assisting the Millstadt Fire Department, MedStar EMS, Millstadt EMS, ARCH Air Medical Services helicopter and police personnel.

That portion of roadway was closed into early Wednesday morning as Illinois State Police conducted its investigation into the crash.

St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. identified the crash victims as Kinsey, 49, of Waterloo, and Daryl Maynor, 63, of St. Louis.

ISP said a white 2004 Chevrolet truck driven by Levi C. Gramlisch, 26, of St. Louis, was traveling west on Douglas Road and disregarded the stop sign at Route 158, striking a black 2020 Chevrolet Equinox driven by Kinsey that was traveling south on Route 158.

Gramlisch was transported to an area hospital for treatment of serious but not life-threatening injuries. Maynor, a passenger in his truck, was ejected during the crash and pronounced deceased at the scene. 

It is believed alcohol played a role in the crash, and possible charges are pending.

Kinsey was also pronounced deceased at the scene. One juvenile passenger in her vehicle was airlifted by helicopter to a St. Louis hospital for treatment of serious injuries. Two other juveniles in the vehicle declined medical transport.

At the scene shortly following the crash was Austin Mahon, 18, of Columbia, who was heading home from Millstadt with a friend when he stopped to assist the officer who was the first to respond.

Mahon told the Republic-Times he made efforts to help the officer and EMTs who arrived later, helping to cut Kinsey out of her seat belt and assisting as the officer performed CPR and attempted to use an automated external defibrillator. Mahon said he participated in EMT training during his senior year at Columbia High School. 

Austin’s mother, Christa Mahon, later expressed she was very proud of her son for stopping to help.

Kinsey, a single mother of two sons, was an active member of Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Waterloo.

Among those who will miss her is Father Linus Umoren, pastor at Ss. Peter & Paul Church, who talked about the energy and passion she brought to her work in the parish – particularly as chairperson for the parish picnic.

“I always would ask her, ‘Where do you get the energy to do all that you do?’” Umoren said. “She’s just like wildfire, just going and going.”

Kinsey was similarly a prominent figure at Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic School, where she served as president of the Athletic Booster Club while also supporting many of the school’s sporting events.

Former SPPCS Athletic Director John Green expressed his sympathies and grief following Kinsey’s passing.

“I really cared a lot for Mary,” Green said. “She was a wonderful person. She was one of the most unselfish people I’ve ever met. Everything she did, she did for somebody else, especially her children. She was a fantastic mother. The boys are really good boys.”

A fundraiser has been organized for Kinsey’s boys JJ, a junior at Gibault Catholic High School, and Danny, an eighth grader at SPPCS.

Contributions to the JJ & Danny Kinsey Benefit Fund can be made at State Bank locations in Waterloo, while a GoFundMe titled “A Taste of Heaven: Mary Kinsey” is also currently active online.

As of Tuesday, nearly $22,000 had been raised.

Kinsey’s close friend Lauren Niebruegge organized the GoFundMe fundraiser because, as she said, “I wanted to, through whatever mechanism possible, help Mary to preserve her desire for Catholic education for her boys.”

Niebruegge continues to hold Kinsey in high regard, describing her as a saint on the GoFundMe page. She also expressed a similar sentiment describing her last interaction with Kinsey at the end of this summer’s parish picnic.

“I felt guilty leaving with my five boys because I knew she had been there long before I arrived and would stay long afterwards,” Niebruegge said. “And she was giving me soda to take home that was extra, she had no place for it and said I could use it. And I remember walking away thinking, ‘I wish I could be more like her.’ It’s almost like she never gets tired. She is such a good role model for adults.”

Niebruegge said she was impressed with Kinsey’s work ethic that she also passed on to her boys, again saying she was “a saint walking this earth” and expressing her desire to make sure her kids get the care that they need.

“Ultimately, I’m going to miss her very deeply as a friend, and I have no idea how we will possibly replace her as a volunteer at Ss. Peter & Paul Church and Ss. Peter and Paul School,” Niebruegge said. “But what matters most is we have got to take care of JJ and Danny.”

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