‘Gone, but never forgotten’:
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PEPPERELL — A 23-year-old Pepperell woman died Monday from injuries she sustained when her car left the road and crashed into a utility pole Sunday night.

Melissa D’Eon was the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle that crashed in the vicinity of 24 Mill St., in Pepperell, about 10 p.m., said Jacquelyn Goddard, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office.

D’Eon’s 24th birthday would have been Friday.

EMTs found her unconscious after the crash. She was flown to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, a press release from the DA’s office said.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash, which is under investigation by the Pepperell Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police, the press release said. No further details were available.

D’Eon was a 2009 graduate of North Middlesex Regional High School. She played lacrosse and soccer for the school.

Three basketball home games at NMRHS this week are dedicated to the star athlete and will include a moment of silence.

Students at the high school who knew her are very upset, said Athletic Director James Bunnell.

“I know a lot of the kids knew her,” Bunnell said.

The North Middlesex Patriots Booster Club plans to send flowers to the wake and funeral on behalf of the Athletic Department, he said.

D’Eon also attended Fitchburg State University from 2009 to 2012. She was an exercise and sports-science major. She was not enrolled in the school at the time of her death.

Barbara Guerriero, a teacher at North Middlesex Regional High School, called D’Eon “a great young lady.”

“When she was in the high school, she was a little spitfire, always smiling and happy-go-lucky,” she said. “She could make you laugh in a split second. She was a friend to everyone, and she always treated them as best friends.”

Guerriero said D’Eon “touched the lives of everyone that knew her.

“I know I will never forget that little, smiling face and vibrant spirit. Such a loss to this world, our school and our community.”

Guerriero said the outpouring of support online, especially on social-media sites like Facebook, has been incredible.

“It is awful, honestly. There are so many pictures of her on Facebook with the kids at school,” she said. “She touched us all and will remain in our hearts forever. Just one of those kids you will never forget.”

Jill Brown, a 2003 graduate of North Middlesex and a close friend of D’Eon, called her friend “the kindest person” she knew.

“She always was thinking of others and cared about her friends and family so much. The first day I met her, I knew, based on one conversation, that her family and friends meant the world to her and she always put them first,” Brown said.

She remembers a wedding she went to a number of years ago with her husband, Mike. D’Eon went to the wedding as Mike’s brother’s date. While she didn’t know anyone at the wedding, that didn’t stop her from having fun.

“She didn’t know anyone, but she was immediately friendly with everyone,” Brown said. “We had so much fun dancing and laughing all night. She had such a big heart and was so fun to be around. Every time I bumped into her, she always greeted me with a big hug and a smile and asked how Mike and his family are.”

Brown remembers D’Eon coming to her for advice, but just by talking out loud with a friend, D’Eon would give herself the advice she was looking for all along.

“I admired that about her,” Brown said. “She was truly an amazing person to know. I bet if anyone could tell her about all of these people leaving comments for her or shedding tears about her, she would never believe them. Such a humble soul. This is such a tragedy, and she will be missed by so many.”

Her sudden passing was the topic of numerous social-media posts, including many on Facebook by people who knew her.

On Melissa’s Facebook page, Stephanie Powers wrote, “Heaven gained a strong angel but we all lost a good friend.”

Lyn Giancotti wrote, “I didn’t know Melissa D’Eon that worked at our favorite place … Baileys Bar & Grille, but what I felt from her was warmth, kindness and a beautiful spirit whenever I came in contact with her!!!! A young life, not here any more but watching over us. … Heaven will not be boring with her presence there …”

“Growing up in the small town of Pepperell, Melissa D’Eon’s presence affected us all in some way, at some point throughout her life,” Marissa Winsser posted. “She was always smiling, laughing, and running all over the place — literally. She could run circles around all of us while laughing, still able to breathe, and still have more energy after.

“From my early memories of playing soccer with her, she was always such an amazing player,” Winsser continued. “And when it came to school she was the fastest girl in our grade every year. She was strong, beautiful, goofy and athletic. I remember in middle school when she finally sat at the girls’ table, with all the guys at the table next to us. Her ‘tomboy’ side could have kicked any guy’s butt. …

“Her smile and laugh will be remembered and should remind us all to live life to the fullest because that was always her attitude. … As I write this and think about all the memories I shared with you, and all the lives you touched, and how much you grew as not only a person, but as a beautiful woman, that before you left you still got to accomplish so many great things that you were proud of and that made you happy, and that is exactly what life is all about. You may be gone, but NEVER forgotten.'”

Bailey’s Bar and Grille in Townsend, where D’Eon worked, planned to close Thursday, from 3-6 p.m., for her wake.