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UA student killed in motorcycle collision

Photo courtesy of Brianna York
Michelle Grace Combs, a 20-year-old retailing and consumer sciences sophomore, was killed Saturday when the motorcycle she was riding on collided with a car on South Country Club Road.
By Holly Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 6, 2005
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A UA student known for her love of children and her positive outlook on life was killed Saturd ay night in a motorcycle collision.

Michelle Grace Combs, a 20-year-old retailing and consumer sciences sophomore, died after the motorcycle she was riding collided with a car around 10:40 p.m. at South Country Club Road and East Beverly Drive, said Officer Dallas Wilson, Tucson Police Department spokesman.

The driver of the motorcycle, Curtis Taylor, 23, was badly injured and transported to University Medical Center where he remains in critical condition, said Loretta McKenzie, UMC spokeswoman.

Neither Combs nor Taylor were wearing helmets at the time of the accident.

Richard Verdugo, 37, was cited with an enhanced penalty for failing to yield in a left turn lane and for registration and insurance violations, Wilson said.

He was booked into Pima County Jail for driving on a suspended license and later released.

Combs and Taylor worked together at El Parador. The two had just gotten off work and had probably decided to go on a joy ride, said Brianna York, Combs' roommate.

"I don't think she'd ever been on one," York said. "She left her purse and everything at her work, so she was coming back. They probably just wanted to go for a ride around the corner."

They became worried when Combs did not come home Saturday night, and they began looking for her, York said.

"We knew that her coworker had been in an accident and his passenger had died, but no one had any idea it was her," Sarah Saul said, a roommate of Combs. "We looked for her everywhere, we went to her boyfriend's house and when she wasn't there we went to UMC."

It was there that Combs' roommates, York and Saul, learned what had happened and later helped to identify her body.

"We didn't want to believe it was her," Saul said. "I just can't stop thinking about that moment when we realized it was her."

To Donate

A memorial fund to benefit children has been set up in memory of Michelle Combs. Anyone wishing to donate can send a check to the Michelle Combs Memorial Fund care of Uncle Credit Union, 1989 E. Santa Rita Road, Pleasanton, CA 94566.

Combs was born in Berkeley, Calif., and lived in Pleasanton, Calif., before attending the UA, said mother Jocelyn Combs in an e-mailed statement.

"Michelle loved to laugh and was always cheery," Jocelyn Combs wrote. "She loved children and they loved her in return. She had a special gift to be with them."

Michelle Combs babysat many children throughout her life and specialized in babysitting twins. She also enjoyed hiking, snowboarding and being involved with Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity on campus, Jocelyn Combs wrote.

Combs also loved candy, lip gloss, speeding and trying new things, York said.

Casie Squires, who met Michelle through the business fraternity, said Michelle was very into helping people and making them smile.

"Everyone was touched by her positive aura and her happiness," Squires said. "That's what she'll be remembered for."

Combs was not sure what she wanted to do after school, but she wanted to have lots of children and travel, York said.

Saul said she's never experienced a death of someone so close before.

"It's hard to fall asleep, and it's hard to wake up," she said. "I keep expecting her to walk through the door. I keep thinking she's on

vacation or something."

UA students and students from other universities have left messages of sorrow on Combs' message board on Many of the students wrote that Combs' had touched their lives and was an inspiration to those around her.

Combs is survived mother Jocelyn Combs, father Richard Combs and wife Baerbel Steffestun, sister Cassie Combs and fiance Bruce Aasen and their daughter Sierra Michelle Aasen, who was named after Michelle Combs.

There will be a small gathering today in the Harvill building, Room 305 at 7 p.m. to remember Michelle.

A celebration of Combs' life will be held at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at Valley Bible Church, 7106 Johnson Drive, Pleasanton, Calif.

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