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Shock Trauma holds memorial for victims who died at the facility

In painful detail, Tammy Messina recounted the day her 17-year-old daughter, Katelyn, was shot to death.

It was July 2011, in the middle of a heat wave. Messina had woken at 9:58 that Sunday morning and was getting ready to go to a yard sale. When she went downstairs, she saw two empty bowls, a box of cereal and a gallon of milk sitting on the counter, which she assumed Katie had left. Her daughter's room was empty, with a movie paused on the television.

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When she stepped outside, Messina was greeted by her daughter's boss and a co-worker, who told her to call the Maryland Shock Trauma Center immediately, because something had happened to Katie.

There, she was met by detectives, who told her Katie was dead.

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"I went completely numb, devastated by the news that I had lost my only child," said Messina, 57. Then a Shock Trauma nurse told her about how hard she had tried to reach Messina. The nurse also told her the time that Katie died: 9:58 a.m.

Messina, a Reisterstown resident, shared her story as part of Shock Trauma's seventh-annual memorial service Sunday for the families of those who have died at the facility in recent years. Some were killed in car crashes, with gunshot wounds or after a fall.

"It's important to take a pause to remember, and many of our families come through the walls of Shock Trauma quickly," said Kristie Snedeker, the director of care management and clinical operations at Shock Trauma. "Tragedy has brought them to us, and it's important to us to come together."

The Rev. David Harness, a chaplain for Shock Trauma, often helps families through their worst moments.

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"It's an opportunity to give honor to the lives we've cared for," Harness said. "It's an opportunity to extend compassion to the families and to really affirm them and affirm the connection we have with them. I think it's also an opportunity to see how healing can emerge from loss."

At the University of Maryland Medical Center campus, dozens of family members sat in a room and listened to Messina's story. They also listened to a singer who earned his nursing degree from UM and heard a poem about loss.

The family members then lined up, some wearing homemade pins honoring their lost relatives. One by one, they said the name of their loved one — some through tears — while a UM staffer rang a bell.

UM staff had also collected pictures of those who died at Shock Trauma, and played them on a large projection screen.

The faces that flashed before the audience included Michael Bates, a chef who was shot and killed during a robbery last year outside his apartment, and Harford County Sheriff's Deputy Patrick Dailey, who was one of two deputies killed while responding to call at a restaurant in Abingdon in 2016. And Travis Butcher, a 19-year-old who was killed last fall when a car struck him as he was riding his motorcycle on his way to work at a retail store.

Butcher's father, Eddie, said his son was set to start working with him at Waste Industries the following week and that he was starting to teach his son about adult life.

"Now we're kind of just picking up the pieces," said Butcher, an Aberdeen resident.

Butcher said he's been trying to get a red light put in at the intersection where his son was killed and is helping lobby for a bill in Annapolis that would stiffen penalties for those who cause an accident resulting in death.

Messina said her daughter loved food, music and dance, was loyal to her friends and was friendly to people with disabilities. She was about to get her driver's license and was working on graduating from Century High School in Sykesville.

Katie Messina was killed by a Crips gang member who lured a former associate and Messina to a secluded Randallstown cul-de-sac and shot them, though the young man survived. Elrich Smith, 19, was convicted in the death in 2012.

Her mother said the Shock Trauma event helped her honor her daughter's memory.

"As the years go on you feel like you're drawing further and further away from the memory," Messina said. "We're here for different losses and different circumstances. It gives you the chance to really connect with individuals who you would never associate with or run into. You just feel the support and the love and it's an amazing feeling."

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