As Lynn Rivera sorted through her daughter’s belongings, she found several cards that people had written to the young woman thanking her for various acts of kindness.
Rivera’s daughter, 26-year-old Allison Meadows, a 2003 graduate of Paso Robles High School, was killed June 6 in what is being investigated as a drunken driving incident in Santa Barbara.
Two days later, authorities arrested Tyrone Richardson, 28, of Santa Barbara on charges of felony murder and two other felonies in connection with the incident.
He pleaded not guilty and has a preliminary hearing July 12 in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.
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Meadows moved to Santa Barbara from Paso Robles about two years ago when she took an office job at Issels Medical Center, a cancer treatment program.
“I guess she has a better vantage point to help people from where she is now although I so wish she was here instead,” Lynn Rivera said through tears during a phone interview from her home in Buckeye, Ariz.
Meadows’ friends are planning a celebration of life for Meadows, whom they described as a kind-hearted friend to many.
The event, which is open to the public, is set for 1 to 7 p.m. July 7 at the Pine Street Saloon, 1234 Pine St. in Paso Robles.
“This was her home,” Paso Robles resident and longtime friend Amber Ligon said. “Everyone loved her. She knew everyone, and she was a friend to everybody.”
Many friends told Ligon they were heartbroken when they couldn’t attend Meadows’ first memorial in Santa Barbara on June 11. Friends hope to establish a bench or plaque to remember Meadows locally, Ligon said.
“The crash site is not somewhere we want to go to remember her,” she said.
Paso Robles resident Brittany Fowler, 28, would love to “just go talk to her” on her birthday, she said.
“She was like a sister. She was just full of life,” Fowler said.
Before she moved to Santa Barbara, Meadows had been a longtime staple in her stepfather’s dentistry practice, Dr. Roger Rivera DDS, in San Luis Obispo and later in Paso Robles.
“She started working from the time she could reach the counter,” Lynn Rivera recalled.
She said Meadows always took the time to listen to others.
“She just lit up a room everywhere she went,” Ligon said.
Her family said they realized she would make an impact on others from a young age. When Meadows turned 13, she asked her family for a birthday party.
“We said, ‘Sure. Invite your closest friends,’ ” Lynn Rivera said.
“Eighty of her closest friends showed up,” her mom recalled, her sad tone noticeably picking up at the happy memory. “Even back then, she just really had a heart for a lot of people.”
Lynn Rivera plans to publish a book of her daughter’s poetry and donate the proceeds to charity as Meadows planned to do.
Authorities released few details of the night Meadows died. A roommate told Lynn Rivera that Meadows went to dinner with friends, returned home and a taxi picked her up later that night, she said. What exactly happened after that isn’t clear.
Meadows was one of three passengers in a 2006 Toyota 4Runner driven by Richardson. One of those passengers was Santa Barbara resident Lindsay Keebler, 26, who was also found injured with Meadows on Highway 192 near Stonehouse Lane in Montecito. Both were taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.