Two days before she died, a picture fell off the wall. "It was hanging right by my door, the picture with the teddy bear with the big red ribbon around it," Ronda Thompson said. "The picture has 'I love you,' on it. I found it in the middle of the kitchen floor."
She remembered something about pictures falling down, a superstition. "It means a death in the family. Tracy knew she was going to die." That very morning, she said, two hours before Tracy Johnson got killed, her brother went to the bathroom and started crying. "He said, 'Someone is going to the morgue.'" After Tracy died, her mother remembered something else. For Mother's Day, the last one before her death, Tracy made her mother a card. "On the back, she wrote the word 'Goodbye.'" A 13-year-old sixth-grader at Ashton Elementary School in Mason County, Tracy was 5-foot-2, weighed 100 pounds, had cropped dark-blond hair and big blue eyes. She liked to read, especially the Bible. She liked *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys.
An adventurous tomboy, she loved playing basketball and climbing trees and anything to do with the outdoors. She could hardly wait to learn to drive. On Sept. 16, 2000, the last day of her life, Tracy Johnson dressed hastily in the Tweety bird overalls and Tweety shirt she loved. She raced from the house, joyous over the prospect of an ATV ride with two neighborhood boys.
"She didn't say goodbye or anything," Thompson said. "Her face was full of smiles. She was smiling ear to ear. It was like a big old angel had come over top of her. She got on that four-wheeler, in the middle, and that was the last time I saw her." Later, some boys came running off the hill, hollering for help. A neighbor ran up to see what was going on. The ATV slid over a hill and smashed head-on into a tree. The jolt broke Tracy's neck. She wasn't wearing a helmet. They buried her with a rose and a teddy bear. She wore a dark purple dress printed with roses. "She's been gone for two years now," her mother said. "It's really hard on me. "I can't even stand to look at a four-wheeler," she said. "I wish they'd ban them all." To contact staff writer Sandy Wells, use e-mail or call 348-5173.