Alexis McKinney was counting the days until her 16th birthday. She had so much to look forward to: the birthday party that her parents were planning to celebrate with friends and family, starting her first job, applying for her driver’s license, and driving the Jeep that her father had purchased for her.
Like most 16-year-olds, she was excited about transitioning into her last years as a teenager and into adulthood. A coming-of-age party that was supposed to be filled with fun memories, laughter, and milestones was taken away from Alexis and her loved ones when she was killed in a substance impaired crash a week before her birthday.
Alexis and her sister were dating two guys that were brothers. On a summer night of July 11, 2012, they were picked up by the brothers, their boyfriends, to go hang out. Sherry Wenck, their mother, told them to be back by 11:00 p.m., their curfew, and that she loved them. When it was 11:30 p.m. and Sherry had not heard from them, she got worried and drove to the boyfriend’s mom’s house. When she arrived, she spoke to the boys’ mother and learned that they weren’t home. While Sherry was there, the boys’ mom received a call. She was told that one of her sons, Alexis’ boyfriend, had been injured in a crash and was transported to the hospital. There was no mention of Alexis, and Sherry’s worry continued to grow. Sherry called the police multiples times, during the last call the police asked her where she was and if she could meet them at the parking lot of a mall nearby. When the police arrived, Sherry implored the police officer to tell her where Alexis was. It was then that the officer informed Sherry that Alexis was dead. She was ejected from the vehicle driven by a 17-year-old boy under the influence of drugs and alcohol—and killed instantly.
Sherry never imagined that she would bury her daughter instead of celebrating her 16th birthday. A week before the crash she had spoken to her children about the dangers of drinking and driving, and remembers Alexis telling her that she would never get in a car with someone that was driving drunk. Sherry knew this would be one of many conversations about underage drinking, but she never imagined that it would be the last.
Alexis was a straight-A student with ambitious goals. She was already thinking of college and planned on applying to schools in California. She loved living life and never took a moment for granted. She touched many lives and is missed dearly.
Sherry shares Alexis’ story in hopes that it will prevent this tragedy from happening to more victims. She encourages parents to have ongoing conversations about underage drinking with their teenagers and remind them that they are not invincible. “As parents we need to be realistic that we can’t keep our children in a bubble and should have real conversations about the everlasting effect that their choices have,” Sherry said. “I miss her every day and my heart continues to ache. I just hope that Alexis continues to live through those she touched.”