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Delafield woman, AHS grad killed in SC car crash

Jan. 25, 2012

According to The State, a Columbia, SC-based newspaper, Melinda "Mindy" Pipp, 24, of Delafield, died in a fiery car crash in the South Carolina capitol early on the morning of Jan. 18.

Pipp and three other people perished in the accident - Kelsey C. Harris, 23 of Louisville, Ky., Billings S. Fuess IV, 24, of Ridgefield Conn., and Brian M. McGrath, 22, of Fairfield, Conn, a senior at the University of South Carolina. Harris and Fuess had also attended the university. The four young adults died on impact when the Dodge Charger driven by McGrath slammed into a building in Columbia, the newspaper reported.

Pipp was 2005 graduate of Arrowhead High School, and a 2010 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She worked at the Wild Hare Sports Café in a Columbia neighborhood known as the Vista, a popular nightclub and bar district near the University of South Carolina campus. Pipp and Harris had recently become roommates.

The State reported that the group of friends had been out celebrating Harris's 23rd birthday on Jan. 17 and into the early morning hours of Jan. 18. The accident happened at approximately 5 a.m., when the driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a building, causing the vehicle to burst into flames. The South Carolina newspaper reported that autopsies indicated that all four died from their injuries before the flames engulfed the car.

Columbia Police were still investigating the circumstances that caused the driver to lose control of his vehicle, The State reported. The car was reportedly speeding at the time of the accident.

On the evening of Jan. 19, friends gathered near the crash site, where they placed flowers and messages in memory of their friends.

The State quoted a poster addressed to Pipp, "I will miss your gorgeous face and charming personality every day."

Pipp had been a member of the Arrowhead pompom team while in high school, and it was clear from comments left on a funeral home's online guestbook and Facebook pages that Pipp had touched the lives of many with her outgoing and playful personality.

James Lanning, the manager of the Wild Hare Sports Café, told The State, "I've never met anyone like her."

He recalled the crazy outfits she would wear to work as well her loyalty to the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He remembered her wearing a cheesehead hat and cheering for Wisconsin sports teams at the restaurant.

One comment on Pipp's online guestbook read, "Mindy, it was a pleasure knowing you. I have never met someone who could brighten up a room like you could. You will be missed."

Friends on Facebook posted pictures of Pipp and left comments of their own.

"You touched every life that ever encountered you," wrote one Facebook friend. "One of the warmest most endearing souls I knew … "

A memorial service will be held locally at a later date.

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