Katelyn "Katie" Lee Ackerman had a big heart, a huge smile and a beautiful soul.
According to her sister, Erin Ackerman, who eulogized the 23-year-old Lake Parsippany resident who died Thursday from injuries sustained in a one-car crash on Route 10, she was also a role model.
"She was my older sister, my best friend and my partner in crime," she said.
Ackerman was born in Denville but lived in Lake Parsippany her whole life, according to her obituary. She was a registered organ and tissue donor.
Hundreds of relatives and friends attended a funeral service for Ackerman Monday night at the Par-Troy Funeral Home. Police presence was required to direct traffic for the dozens of cars coming in and leaving after the services, which began with visitation hours at the funeral home. Photos of Ackerman and her friends covered boards and several of her friends held single red and pink roses as they weeped over the loss of their friend.
Kathy Fisher, Ackerman's aunt, read aloud a comment made on a Parsippany Patch article reporting the crash that claimed her niece's life. Fisher said the comment, posted by user LR, "really helped us" as she and her relatives grieved:
Didn't witness the crash but attempted to help. We got the fire out. We were relieved. We thought we could save her. I'm so sorry Katie, to you, your family. I wish we could've done more. To her family, I promise you, we did all we knew to do, she was cared for. My entire heart wanted to save her, get her out, get her help. She was not left alone. Complete strangers banned together, for this beautiful young girl, to do everything we could. I never met her, and I'm forever changed. I was able to see her Facebook and the overwhelming impact she had on EVERYONE she met, and now didn't meet. She truly was a blessing to this world. My heart aches for those who loved her, and those unfortunate to have never met her.
Ackerman was working at a new job as a personal assistant when she died. Her uncle, Chuck Fugger, said she "loved and embraced her job." She was also continuing her education at the County College of Morris and had recently switched career paths to study forensic psychology.
Fugger said he thought he knew a lot about his niece, but has been enlightened by reading the messages friends have posted on her Facebook wall since her death.
"I didn't know Katie loved the fall," Fugger said. "She would have loved a day like today...a beautiful, crisp day."
Fugger said his niece was beautiful and full of life. He said she loved to hang out with her friends and specifically mentioned "Laurenn with two n's," who Ackerman thought of like a sister.
He said he and his family had plans to get together with Ackerman soon, and for her to welcome his expected daughter in December together with him. He thought there would be more time, he said.
"The key word in that sentence was 'time.' In this case, there wasn't enough time," he said.
Erin Ackerman shared a story that broke many mourners away from tears for a moment. She said she and her sister would play all the time and one time, they picked peppers from the garden. Ackerman was unaware of how spicy the hot peppers were and when her little sister made her a salad with them and she began to eat it, she "started to freak out." After that, Ackerman was not fond of peppers.
"Katie was an awesome older sister and I will always cherish our memories together," Erin Ackerman said.
Before the final prayer, she told the attendees that her sister had once mentioned to her that should anything ever happen, she wanted a specific song played at her services. The song, which Erin Ackerman played for guests, was "My My, Hey Hey," by Neil Young.