Student who died in train derailment is remembered as talented dancer, singer

August 28, 2012

In the days after her sister, Rose, died in a train derailment, Anna Mayr felt as if her younger sibling were upstairs sleeping while friends swapped stories on the family’s Ellicott City porch until the early hours of Sunday.

Anna Mayr, a May graduate of the University of Maryland, had just moved to New York City to start a career in finance when her father called Tuesday to tell her the unimaginable news: Rose Mayr was killed when a CSX train ran off the tracks and buried her and one of her best friends, Elizabeth Conway Nass, in coal. The women, both 19, were sitting on the railroad bridge above Main Street in historic Ellicott City when the accident occurred about midnight Monday.

“The way I pictured it, it was a party for her and everyone was really happy,” Anna Mayr said of her sister. “It was like she was here, but upstairs.

“We just talked about Rose.”

It is the support of friends and family that has enabled the Mayrs to go on in recent days, they said. Their home, the one where Rose and Anna were raised, is lined with bouquets of flowers and stacks of sympathy cards. Scattered throughout the dining room are a half-dozen posterboards, prepared for Rose’s funeral Saturday, adorned with snapshots of family vacations, holidays and milestones.

Reminders of Rose’s life — photos displayed on the refrigerator, the songs she recorded on the computer, her senior portrait above the fireplace — fill the space. But it is the waves of Rose’s friends and classmates that have brought the most comfort, her parents said.

“It does make it easier, to see that so many people care about her,” said her mother, Sharon Mayr.

Rose Mayr was a 2010 Mount Hebron High School graduate who was studying to be a nurse at the University of Delaware. Her parents had planned to move her into an apartment for the start of her junior year Friday, the day her visitation was held.

The family said Rose was brimming with talent: She sang, danced and drew with skill and natural ability.

She was part of her high school’s dance company and on the drill team. But she performed for the joy of it rather than accolades, her father said.

“I loved watching her dance,” Sharon Mayr said. “That was the highlight of my life.

“It was like, ‘Wow. I didn’t know she could do that.’ Or, ‘Oh, how could she have learned to do all of that when I didn’t even know she was doing it?’”

Rose had intended to start clinical rotations at school this year and had told her sister that she would like to earn a master’s degree.

“Rose was very independent-minded,” said her father, Mark Mayr. “She didn’t go down any conventional path.”

Mayr and Nass had been friends since kindergarten at Hollifield Station Elementary School, when they were taught by Lisa Davis.

“[I] have such fond memories of both,” Davis said. “Our staff so enjoyed watching them both grow up and become the beautiful young women that they were, and then many of us were there to watch them graduate from high school.”

Mayr and Nass stayed friends throughout their school years but had grown close this summer. The Nass and Mayr families said the young women had filled the last several weeks with an Orioles game, watched the Fourth of July fireworks from the Inner Harbor, tried paddle-boating on Lake Kittamaqundi, and visited their friends at the University of Maryland.

On the night of the accident, the young women had planned one last adventure.

Sharon Mayr said she’s coping, knowing that her family and the Nasses have a strong support system.

“[We’re] going to get through this,” she said. “That’s all I can say.”

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