Two Lives Remembered: Cousins killed in crash shared special bond

Two Lives Remembered: Cousins killed in crash shared special bond


GIBSON CITY — Family members remembered Kelsey Bridgwater and Charly Jesse as being more like sisters than first cousins, as the two shared many moments together.

While on their way to an appointment Jesse had in Paxton last week, the Ms. Bridgwater, 21, and Ms. Jesse, 24, were killed in an automobile accident at the intersection of Illinois 9 and County Road 1300 E, 3 miles east of Elliott.

"They were just both very free-spirited, loved to draw and write, and just loved nature," said Karley Bridgwater, Kelsey's sister and Charly's cousin. "They just lived life as free and simple as they possibly could."

Both girls grew up in Gibson City and attended Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley schools.

The two shared a love of the arts, with Kelsey interested in art and Charly in poetry. According to her mother, Kelsey dreamed of one day becoming a professional artist.

"She wanted to become an artist," Kelli Bridgwater said. "She wanted to sell her work. She wanted to share her gift to others and to travel."

Kelli said that her daughter's personality was quite similar to her horoscope sign, Leo. She said that Kelsey was bold and determined.

"She was definitely a lion at heart — fierce and bold," she said. "She had beautiful eyes and the widest smile you could imagine. She lit up the room."

Charly was described by her mother, Beth, as a unique individual who loved to write and hoped to do it for a living one day.

"She was a really good writer," Beth Bridgwater said. "One time in grade school, she wrote a poem and it was published (in a Celebrate Poetry book)."

Beth said that she named her daughter after her father and Charly's grandfather, the late Charles "Chuck" Bridgwater.

"I was really close to my dad, and after I had Kristyn, my oldest, I decided that if I ever had another girl, I would name her Charly," she said, adding that her daughter and father shared a close bond.

"She was named after my dad and was really close to my dad," she said.

Beth said that her daughter and niece shared a strong bond and close friendship.

"Charly was very loving and caring," she said. "She was kind of a unique kid — she and Kelsey both. They were more like sisters than they were cousins, they really were."

Charly Jesse had recently learned that she was expecting a baby and was eight weeks pregnant at the time of the accident.

"She was really looking forward to being a mom," Beth Bridgwater said.

Karley Bridgwater said that her family is dealing with the loss of two young lives cut short.

"You just go through all the emotions," she said. "You're sad, you're mad, you're angry, you're numb."

Ross Brown writes for the Ford County Record, a News-Gazette Media community newspaper. For more, visit

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