Community remembers Rifle teen
Post Independent Staff
RIFLE ” Saturday afternoon, the Rifle High School gymnasium was so quiet one could almost hear a ghost whisper.
According to most of those present, however, the spirit of 16-year-old Megan Beauford would most likely have been giggling. So perhaps it was fitting that the memorial service, which was attended by hundreds of residents, was speckled with laughter as friends and family recounted stories of Megan’s antics.
“It is a sad time, but also, we’re talking about how happy she was and how always she made us smile. Megan always laughed. Could not get her to stop laughing,” said Shawnn Wilkins, an assistant coach on Megan’s softball team.
Wilkins then told the crowd about how during a four-hour road trip to Greeley, Megan had started making faces at her teammates and calling them “bug-eyes.” The girls loved it and wouldn’t quit laughing, Wilkins said.
“It was all night long, bug-eyes, bug-eyes, bug-eyes,” Wilkins said with a smile.
“She would’ve liked all the stories,” said Megan’s mother, Tracy Beauford. “It would’ve made her feel good.”
Megan, who died Wednesday morning as a result of injuries sustained in a single-car accident late Monday night, was a student at Rifle High School. She participated in softball, and was also a member of the Rifle girls basketball team and the cheerleading squad. Throughout her life, Megan also participated in dance, gymnastics, snowboarding and motorcycle riding.
The consensus among those who knew her best was that she will be missed the most for her simple joy.
“She had an infectious smile,” said J.W. Selsor, a friend of the Beauford family, who fought through his obvious pain to speak about Megan.
Selsor related how on one particular car ride, Megan was singing along to the Van Morrison song “When a Child is a Child,” and decided to make up her own lyrics.
“Megan was eating raspberries, and she came up with a pretty profound lyric, ‘when a raspberry was a raspberry,’ and I think I had coke coming out of my nose,” Selsor said, which drew knowing laughs from the crowd.
“She was a beautiful person,” said Hannah Altig, one of Megan’s oldest friends. “No one can replace our Megan.”
“Megan was the little sister I never had,” said Shay Salaz, who had maintained her friendship with Megan despite going away to college.
The turnout for Megan’s farewell was so heavy that residents were still streaming into the auditorium 10 minutes after the service was scheduled to begin. The parking lot was packed to capacity, and cars were parked all along the school’s entry drive. Principal Todd Ellis even had to ask residents seated in the bleachers to cram as closely as possible so as to make room for everyone who wished to attend the service.
The outpouring of support from the community was so strong that it even drove Megan’s grandfather, Eric Wallace, to stand and thank the crowd at the close of the service.
“What I’ve seen the past few days is a miracle,” Wallace told the room. “I’m glad Megan grew up here.”
“I didn’t realize how many people cared about her. It’s a shame I didn’t know about this until now,” said Tracy Beauford.
The massive attendance at the service was only a part of what the community did for the Beaufords. On Thursday night, students organized a candlelight vigil in front of the Beauford home with at least 200 residents attending, Tracy Beauford said.
“That was just awesome. I walked out there, and I was just amazed,” she said.
Skyler Dungan, one of Megan’s classmates, said the vigil was organized by another student, Danny Griffith. Dungan said they purchased about 70 candles and balloons then gathered near the end of the Beauford’s street, and slowly walked up to the home.
“We didn’t bring that many candles,” Dungan said. “A lot of people must have brought their own.”
Just as the students showed up on the Beauford’s street, the weather, which had been looking like rain would soon fall, suddenly became calm.
“It was like God parted the clouds,” said Megan’s grandfather, Wallace.
“It was amazing,” said student Branton Brown, who attended the vigil. “We put the candles on the ground, in front of the house, and none of them blew out.”
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