Kelly Walters, 20, was just one week shy of leaving for Morocco to immerse herself in the Arabic language and study human rights when she was killed in a hit-and-run accident.
At 8:15 p.m. Friday, Walters was walking back to her apartment near Ellis Elementary School in Arlington when she was hit by a driver who left the scene. At 1:45 a.m. Saturday, Arlington police knocked on her parents’ door at the north Arlington home where she grew up and gave them the news.
“They showed us a photo of her hand that has a fairly unusual ring on it, a locket she was wearing and pictures of her earrings. I knew it was her,” her mother, Ginna Walters, told the Star-Telegram on Sunday night, though the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office has not officially identified Kelly.
A junior at the University of Texas at Arlington, she became especially interested in women’s rights and equal rights for all years ago, when she saw the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York City, her parents said.
Walters’ body was found in the street at Northeast Green Oaks Boulevard and Burney Road, police said. A witness told them she was crossing the street in a marked crosswalk when she was hit by an older-model SUV that left the scene. Police have no suspects in the accident.
Ginna Walters and Kelly’s dad, Gary Brizendine, said they adopted Kelly from the Gladney Center when she was just 2 weeks old. She would have been 21 in three weeks, her mother said.
“We lost a leader,” Ginna Walters said Sunday night. “She is going to leave a hole in the world, not just a hole in my heart and not just a hole in my family’s hearts.”
Kelly Walters joined the Arlington Republican Club when she was 16.
Dale Attebery, vice president of the club, was trying to talk her into becoming president of his organization in the next few years, he said Sunday.
“She is just 20 years old,” he said through tears. “This young lady was as smart as they come.”
She had a double major in political science and psychology at UTA, had taken four semesters of Arabic and was considering minoring in it, her father said.
Her mom remembers Kelly’s interest in the 9/11 attacks.
“On Sept. 11, 2001, she was in the second grade, and she was really, really, precocious and interested in what was going on in the world. I let her read about what was happening. She grew to want to do something with women’s rights in the Arab world,” Ginna Walters said.
Her father added, “She was interested in equality for people — male, female, black, white, brown. She was color blind, so to speak. She had friends of every race and of every creed.”
Brizendine recalls taking Walters to an Arlington town hall meeting where Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was speaking. When he opened up the floor for questions, Walters’ hand shot up.
“Congressman Barton said he had heard from her before,” Brizendine said. “Barton said, ‘I want all of y’all to listen close because this is going to be the most insightful question asked here this evening in the whole audience.’”
Walters was asked that evening to become a page in the U.S. House of Representatives when she was eligible.
Walters lived in a dorm in D.C. and went to school full-time at the main building of the Library of Congress.
“It was a big deal for her,” her mother said. “She told Joe Barton that she wanted his job as soon as he was done with it.”
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792