Kara Marian Cook

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Kara M. Cook

Kara Marian Cook, an accomplished horsewoman and artist who was studying to become a hair stylist, died April 12 of injuries sustained in a Baltimore County automobile accident.

The Reisterstown resident was 21.

On April 12, Ms. Cook was driving north on Greenspring Avenue at 5:31 p.m., when her 2000 BMW struck a 2006 Mercedes-Benz that was stopped and making a left turn on Garrison Forest Road. Her car then collided with a guard rail.

Ms. Cook was transported to Sinai Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, said a spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Police Department.

Ms. Cook, the daughter of Scott and June Mirafloor Cook, was born in Baltimore and raised in Reisterstown. She attended Sacred Heart parochial school in Glyndon from kindergarten through the eighth grade.

In 2004 and 2005, she attended Notre Dame Preparatory School; she graduated in 2008 from Franklin High School.

Ms. Cook attended Carroll County Community College, and at her death, was studying to be a hair stylist at the Robert Paul Academy of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences in Timonium.

"Kara was on track to graduate from Robert Paul in May, with plans for employment as a hair stylist upon completion of her state examinations," said her father, who lives in Reisterstown.

"While the event is horrific, the students and staff want to remember all of the good things about Kara," said Daria Ferrara, who is the owner and director of the cosmetology school.

"The kids don't want to be morose and want to remember Kara fondly. They did a group picture wearing her favorite power red lipstick and put it on Facebook," said Ms. Ferrara.

She said that when Ms. Cook came to school she was "always ready to learn and open to new things."

"For a young person, she had a mature soul. She was wonderful with the clients and had a calming effect on people that inspired confidence," said Ms. Ferrara.

"Throughout her childhood, she was always fascinated and thrilled by horseback riding. We have pictures and videos of her on her first horse, a plastic carousel-style horse attached to a frame by metal cords," her father said. "She continued to play with the toy when her feet touched the ground."

When Ms. Cook was 6, she began taking riding lessons with Frances Ann Merryman, a former educator and thoroughbred trainer, at her Tack 'N Trot riding school, located at Rolling Ridge Farm in the Worthington Valley.

"She was 6 when she started and I developed her as a rider. She later progressed to riding competitively in later years. She rode show hunters, which takes lots of skill," said Ms. Merryman. "It takes a lot of skill and patience and she had it. And she was good enough that she wanted to share it with young equestrians."

Ms. Cook was able to balance attending Carroll Community College and working at the farm, where in recent years she began instructing young riders.

"She was a wonderful young lady and very diligent in her job. It was wonderful to see. She liked teaching so much," said Ms. Merryman. "She was just the best."

Ms. Cook was known for her affability and her outgoing and encouraging personality.

"Kara always found the good in every situation even negative ones. When things went wrong, she'd find the good," said Ms. Merryman.

Samantha J. Mende, who studied early childhood education at Carroll Community College, had also ridden together with Ms. Cook at Tack 'N Trot since she was 6.

"She was an absolutely beautiful and talented rider. She had great positions and was always smiling and had her focus," said Ms. Mende, who lives in Hampstead. "And she always gave her students her full attention."

The two young women enjoyed casual rides across the fields together.

"Kara was just a great person to be around and with," said Ms. Mende.

Ms. Cook was also a talented artist.

"She loved to paint abstractly and was not limited to canvas. She painted large-scale murals that represented the many facets of her relationships," her father said.

"She also painted ceramics," said her mother.

Ms. Cook enjoyed vacations and spending time with her family.

"Kara loved the outdoors. She said she always wanted to go sky diving. She liked challenges like going to a race track and racing horses. She thought that would be neat," said her mother. "She had a bit of a wild spirit but was never afraid."

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at St. John's Episcopal Church, 3738 Butler Road, Glyndon.

In addition to her parents, Ms. Cook is survived by her sister, Caitlin Cook of Annapolis; paternal grandparents, Roy and Jean Cook of East Berlin, Pa.; maternal grandmother, Shirley Miraflor of Jacksonville, Fla.; and her boyfriend, Paul Hogan of Reisterstown.