Crash victim remembered as ‘beautiful soul’
Worked with those living with mental health issues, helped homeless care for their pets
Kathryn Stachyra lived to lend a hand to anyone who needed it.
The Hamilton woman — described as a “rare” and “beautiful soul” — worked with those living with mental health issues and played an instrumental role in founding a local non-profit dedicated to helping the homeless care for their pets, according to her life partner of more than two years, Martin Lemieux.
Stachyra, 37, died in hospital Saturday night surrounded by loved ones following a two-vehicle crash on the Queen Elizabeth Way near Brant Street last Monday afternoon.
Given her passion for helping others, it is only fitting that four of Stachyra’s organs will be donated, said Lemieux, 38.
“She was able to save some more lives even after death,” he said Sunday.
Stachyra — who had a masters degree in social work — always seemed grateful for the opportunities she had to help other people, remembered Jane George, executive director of Wellwood, a non-profit for people diagnosed with cancer and their families.
In the several years she volunteered as a yoga instructor with the non-profit, Stachyra always brought an “exuberant, bubbly” personality to her practice and had an “utter sense of joy” in everything she did, said George.
While Stachyra’s spirituality shone through in her yoga and meditation practices, she also liked to rock.
Bandmate Dan Padro said their Mississauga-based ensemble, Whiskey Concussion, had never had a lead singer that fit better with the group than Stachyra.
Her gravelly voice, her ability to connect with the audience and her energy on stage made her a star, he said.
She brought a sense of spontaneity to the band and an outgoing and fiery personality that made things fun — like the time she broke out into “She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes for a small audience in a parking lot after band practice.
“We don’t think we’re ever going to find anyone who’s as good of a fit as she is,” he said.
Despite her commitment to the community around her, friends and family were No. 1 on Stachyra’s priority list.
“Her passions of yoga, music and animals were only second to the passion of loving her family and friends,” said one of her best friends, Sarah White.
“She loved us intensely, with her whole heart and whole self, unashamed to hug and kiss us, tell us she loved us.”
Stachyra leaves behind her parents, sister, aunts and uncles, cousins and longtime friends.
OPP said the investigation into the collision, which involved a Toyota Corolla and a commercial vehicle, is ongoing. Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said last week it appeared the commercial vehicle, a “cube van,” may have been disabled or slowing down on the QEW when the collision happened.
Kathryn Stachyra, from Hamilton, died following a two-vehicle crash on the QEW.