Loved ones to celebrate what would have been teen's 19th birthday party

CHESTER -- Four months ago, Chester's Amanda Roof died in a car accident.

Today, along the side of the same Chester County road where tragedy delivered its blow about 4 miles west of Chester, Roof's family and friends will hold what would have been her 19th birthday party.

"We're not celebrating her death," said Roof's grandmother, Marian Allison. "We're celebrating her life on this earth."

For years, Amanda Roof's birthday was celebrated on the weekend before the actual date. Her birthday was June 13. Her best friend's is June 2, and her cousin's is June 12. The weekend has traditionally been a party for all three, Allison said.

But this year, deputies will direct traffic for a 3 p.m. event where balloons will be released, Roof's cousin will rev his racecar's engine 19 times -- one for each year since Roof was born -- and people will simply remember the girl who had planned to study nursing at York Technical College in the fall.

"She wanted to be an RN so she could take care of me and her mama," Allison said. "She was one in a lifetime. There'll never be another one like her."

On Feb. 7, Roof was heading south along Ridgeview Road in her Nissan car when she ran off the left side of the road and went down an embankment just before 10 p.m., S.C. Highway Patrol troopers said.

Roof was thrown from the car and died at the scene from her injuries, authorities said. Her 4-year-old nephew, Michael, was riding with her, but he wasn't seriously hurt.

"She loved that baby with all her heart," Allison said.

Roof was a second-shift patient care assistant with Palmetto Village, taking care of older people. She was supposed to work the day after the crash. People at the facility knew it was her shift and asked where she was. When they heard what had happened, some cried.

"She loved those old people," Allison said. "And they loved her to death."

When Roof was in middle school, Allison was injured in a car accident and disabled. So Roof cared for her grandmother.

If Allison went to the doctor, Roof went with her. If she went to the grocery store, they went together. Everywhere Allison went, her only granddaughter walked beside her.

"She gave me a reason to live," Allison said. "If you didn't love her, then you didn't know her."

Along with helping her family, Roof also made time to see her cousin, Jamie "Sparky" Varnadore, drive his racecar.

"She was just a cool person to hang out with," said Sparky, who will turn 17 on Tuesday. "We've always been close. ... She watched me race all the time."

Now, the hood of his racecar says, "Rest in peace Carrie Amanda Roof."

Today, Sparky's engine will roar, music will play and people who cared about Amanda Roof will be reminded of what they lost at that site, but also what they had beforehand.

"We always had a big ol' party together," Sparky said. "Now that she's not here, we're going to have a party for her."