By Chris Villani Reporter/Columnist · July 08, 2016
Jackie Gray, who died in a car crash near her Milford home on July 3, is shown here, doing a cheer routine for her college hockey team,the Quinnipiac University IceCats. Contributed photo
Friends Remember Talented & Inspirational Milford Dancer
Friends of Jacqueline Gray recalled the Milford teen as a talented dancer, a good friend, and an inspiration to those around her after the young woman was killed in a car accident last Sunday near her Congress Street home.
"She was really inspiring, she always motivated us to do our best and she loved to dance, she shared that passion with all of us," said Emily Wood, 18, who danced for nine years with Gray at Express Dance and Acrobatics in Milford. "She was such a hard worker and she always helped the younger kids be better dancers. She would push everyone to do their best."
Wood, along with fellow dance team members Kristin Krauss, 18, and Marlee D'Angelo, 17, made bracelets with beads in the dance studio's colors and angel wings in memory of their friend, who graduated from Milford High last spring.
"When she graduated, she never left, she came right back to us," Krauss said. "She came to summer camps and supported us and she came to the recitals."
The three girls said they spent a great deal of time with Gray both in and out of the studio, but whether it was watching dance videos during a sleepover or making up one of their own, dance was almost always involved in their time together. Through both smiles and tears, they recalled time spent shopping, hiking through the Hopedale parklands, and going to the beach with Gray and her younger brother.
Omar Merced, 40, taught Gray at the dance studio for nearly half of her life. "If I had to sum up Jackie, I would say she lived an incredible life," he said, choking up. "I don't think I ever saw that kid angry, I never saw her mad. She always came in with a smile on her face. She was so passionate about life and everyone she came in contact with.
"She was just an outstanding young lady who shared so much of herself with her students and the people who surrounded her every day," he added, noting Gray was supposed to work at the studio this summer as an instructor during camps.
Milford High graduate Scott DeCapua knew Gray both at MHS and at Quinnipiac University, where Gray had finished her freshman year this spring.
"When she came to college this past year, we became closer," he said. "I would always run into her on the quad and every time we saw each other she would take time out of her day to talk to me."
DeCapua said Gray was a cheerleader for the QU hockey team — the IceCats — and "just spewed positivity" to those around her.
Milford High School Athletic Director Peter Boucher noted how supportive Gray was of her younger brother, a two-sport star in football and wrestling for the Scarlet Hawks.
"She was definitely a great all-around kid," he said. "She was a constant fixture and a super fan at his games and matches."
Milford Superintendent of Schools Kevin McIntyre said Monday counseling services would be available through the school for current and past MHS students, as well as faculty.