Memorial today for Douglas High student |

Memorial today for Douglas High student

Kurt Hildebrand
Shannon Litz/Tribune News Service/ A shrine stands at Kingsbury Grade at mile marker 4, where Douglas High School student Cory Jackson died last week. The memorial service is today.

MINDEN – A celebration of life for Douglas High School athlete Cory Jackson, who was killed July 21 in a Kingsbury Grade automobile accident, will be from 3-6 p.m. today at Carson Valley Christian Center on Stephanie Way.

Heidi Jackson, Cory’s mother, said she wanted people to remember Cory as the fun-loving person he was.

“He always made people laugh,” she said. “He had a big heart and a gentle spirit.”

Cory’s cousins said the 16-year-old was coming home from his second day on the job when he was killed after driving off the road. The Gardnerville teenager had celebrated his birthday five days before his death.

South Lake Tahoe cousin Coral Warren, who is three weeks younger than Cory, said Cory, cousin Cole Jackson and she were very close.

“We did everything together,” she said. “Cole really looked up to him. I was hugging Cole and he looked in the mirror and said we were missing the third of our triad because Cory wasn’t there. People say Cory was a great person, but it’s not ‘was.’ Cory is a great person.”

While they did not see each other as often as Coral would like, she said Cory always greeted her as if they saw each other every day.

“Every time I saw him he would give me a hug and I could feel the love in him.”

Nikki Warren said the community has provided lots of support to the family and to Cory’s mother, Heidi.

“A tragedy like this ripples through the entire community,” she said.

She and Coral said food has been pouring into the house, some from people they didn’t know.

“The compromise people make to live here sometimes pays off so much when a tragedy occurs because everyone really cares about Corey,” she said.

She said Cory was good with children and volunteered to work with them whenever possible.

He volunteered with the Family Support Council and with the Carson Valley Days parade.

“He was just amazing with kids,” she said. “He was the happiest person. That’s not always true for a teenager, but he was happy all the time. He was a big part of his church and youth group.”

The 16-year-old worked at Lakeside Beach Grill in South Lake Tahoe for just a few days before his death, but that was enough time for the people there to miss him.

“Everybody there just loved him,” Warren said.

Cory’s girlfriend Denai Neilander and he were both on the swim team. His cousins said the couple was very close.

Coral said the full scope of the tragedy only unfolds when you know the person involved.

“Kids need to understand it is reality,” Coral said. “I remember the girl dying last summer, but I didn’t understand how different it is when someone is close to you. He got his license just two months ago. I’m terrified when I think about getting in a car, I can’t bear it.”

Cory is the only son of Heidi Jackson. He and Coral were three weeks apart in age and grew up together in South Lake Tahoe.

Cory swam, wrestled and played football at Douglas High School. He worked as a babysitter at the Family Support Council.

He was killed coming home from work at about 9:35 p.m. Thursday when his Ford Probe went over the edge of Kingsbury Grade near Tramway.

Cory is survived by maternal grandparents, David and Cary Jackson of Gardnerville; paternal grandparents David and Arlene Sawyer of Southern California; aunt Kelly Jackson of Gardnerville; cousins Nikki, Carie and Coral Warren, Cole Jackson; half-brothers Noah and Justin Hughes; and many cousins, aunts and uncles from South Lake Tahoe, Southern California and Idaho.

He was an active member of the youth group at High Sierra Fellowship.

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