Rachel Janosik, 20, was eager to see the world. So when she landed a job stocking food and beverages on planes at Horizon Air six months ago, she knew this was her chance.
The former Enumclaw resident recently had flown to Phoenix and San Diego. Last month, she spent three weeks working 16-hour shifts so she could save up time for another vacation, this time to Puerta Vallarta.
She invited her closest friend, Meghann Hall, 19, and Hall's boyfriend Ryan Sparks, 20. With Rachel's employee discount, the three Enumclaw High School alumni jetted away to the warmth of the Mexican sun to celebrate life and the couple's recent engagement, friends say.
They did not return. News of their deaths aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 261 spread almost instantaneously across the phone lines of Enumclaw late Monday.
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Meghann's parents, Mark and Mary Hall, are living through the death of their second and only remaining child. Four years ago, Meghann's older brother, Kelly, died in a motorcycle accident on Interstate 5 near the Kent-Des Moines exit.
"Now their family has no children," said friend and former high school counselor Kim Kravagna. "And I hurt for them."
For the first few years after Kelly's accident, Meghann had a hard time coping with her brother's death, friends say. She would comment about her sorrow as she passed the accident site along I-5.
But friends say through the support of family, friends and her favorite sport, fast-pitch softball, she succeeded in going on.
She had learned to open her heart again, said Loran Zenonian, a friend and her former coach.
Friends say Meghann was a terrific athlete, earning a softball scholarship to Highline Community College. And Rachel was, too. She had attended Bellevue Community College on a softball scholarship.
Though Rachel was a grade older, the two girls had become best friends through their years of playing ball together. Zenonian remembers how the two stuck it out through an ice storm without any heat while house-sitting for him a few winters back, huddled together in their sleeping bags. They were tough and fun and optimistic in adverse conditions, he said.
Tuesday, Meghann's parents hurried back from a trip to Colorado to gather some things at home - including dental records - before flying to Los Angeles to wait and be closer to the spot their daughter died.
Rachel's parents, Tim and Kathy Janosik, however, didn't have plans to visit the accident site. Instead, they remembered their daughter from the home and the community they raised her in.
"She was a real pretty girl, athletic, always on the go," said Tim Janosik. "Liked to shop, liked to tan. She was a typical young person. She made friends everywhere she went."
Her former Bellevue Community College coach called Tuesday to tell him this year's team will honor Rachel with a patch bearing her initials.
Tony Osterdahl, who graduated from Enumclaw High in 1997 alongside Rachel, had known both girls since grade school.
He will remember Rachel for her tremendous humor.
"She was the funniest person I ever met," Osterdahl said. "I kind of had a crush on her all through high school. ... She was always my stress relief in high school; I could go to her and she'd make me laugh."
And he will remember Ryan for his great friendship and great potential in life, and for the years they shared on basketball teams since the fifth grade.
Bill Hawk, who coached the young man at Enumclaw High, described Ryan as an athlete who elevated the intensity of practices. Even this year, three years after Ryan graduated, Hawk still used stories about him as an example when coaching players at practice.
"He was an inspirational person," Osterdahl said. "He was a great guy, that about sums it up."