Kayla Winter Perry, a dancer who dreamed of perhaps becoming an FBI agent, died after a car crash on her way to school Tuesday. She was 17.

Born in Columbia and raised in Owings Mills, Ms. Perry was set to graduate from George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson this spring. She had recently toured a dozen historically black colleges and universities and was considering her options for next year, said her father, Terry Felix Jr.


She was someone who made friends easily, always laughing with those around her, her friends and family said.

“She was just a lovable person,” said her cousin, Angel Braxton, 19. “Just about anybody that met her could enjoy her company and just be drawn to her.”

Ms. Perry was also loyal, always defending those she was close to and putting them ahead of herself, said another cousin, Destiny Georgia, 19.

“She was just the sweetest person ever,” said her sister, Telia Manning, 19. “She had the craziest laugh.”

Ms. Perry started dancing as a student at Deer Park Middle Magnet School in Randallstown, and she danced with Baltimore DanceTech and Studio A Dance Studio before joining the dance team at Carver, her father said. She danced many different styles over the years, but was recently most focused on ballet, said Ms. Georgia.

Mr. Felix said his daughter loved to shop and get her nails and hair done with her mother, Shantae Mitchell-Dow, and her sisters, Ms. Manning and Skyla Felix, 9. He recalled Ms. Perry once helped him shop for shoes, but ended up picking out a pair for herself. He was happy to buy them for her.

Her Instagram account showed her penchant for fashion. Her most recent post to more than 3,000 followers, shared Sept. 3, shows her posing in a stairwell at school, with a long red ponytail, big gold hoops in her ears and wearing a black tank top, navy skirt and black-and-white checkered Vans sneakers. In others, always with a different hairstyle, she wore ripped jeans, crop tops and red checkered Vans.

She participated in fashion shows at Carver, learning to strut in heels from Ms. Manning.

“She always wanted to look good,” Mr. Felix said.

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Friends described her as the life of the party, and her father recalled noticing that a dry-erase calendar she kept in her room was filled with party after party this summer. She and friend Kaiya Vickers, born a week apart, had been planning a party to celebrate their birthdays together — Ms. Perry would have turned 18 next month.

“Kayla was one of a kind. She was a very fun free spirit,” said Ms. Vickers, who became best friends with Ms. Perry as freshmen at New Town High School, before Ms. Perry transferred to Carver.

“We did everything together — laugh, cry, scream, anything you could think of,” Ms. Vickers said. “Whatever we did, we did it 10 times hard. We lived in the moment.”

Most of the time, Ms. Perry liked doing what most teens do, Ms. Vickers said — riding around with her friends, going to Chick-fil-A, watching movies.

“I feel like she’s watched every movie and show on Netflix,” Ms. Vickers said.


It was from crime shows on Netflix that she got the inspiration to explore a career with the FBI, Ms. Georgia said. But she also talked of pursuing professional dance and traveling the world, Ms. Georgia said, or studying physical therapy, Mr. Felix said.

A celebration of Ms. Perry’s life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Carver Center, 938 York Road in Towson. A GoFundMe page raising money for the service had raised about $4,800 of a $5,000 goal as of Sunday afternoon.