Friday was the last day of the school year at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle, where Isabelle Manahan, 15, was a freshman.

School got out at noon and everyone was excited to start summer vacation.

A little over two hours later and 20 minutes away from the school, Isabelle was dead, killed in a crash while driving a car without a driver’s license. Her three passengers, all Lincoln Academy freshman girls, were injured.

Instead of going off for the summer this weekend, students returned to the school to mourn.

“She was so full of joy. She had an easy smile and easy laugh people just loved her for. She was a sunny, sunny girl,” said Jenny Mayher, communications director at Lincoln Academy, who spoke for the family Saturday.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office did not release the names of the girls involved in the crash – including the two 15-year-olds and one 14-year-old who were injured – because they are minors. Isabelle’s family released her identity. The sheriff’s department said the injuries sustained by the three passengers were not life-threatening.

Mayher said almost everyone in Newcastle, where Isabelle grew up, and the Lincoln Academy community knew her. She was also a well-known figure at the Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta, where she graduated last year.

TWO DAYS OF MOURNING

Lincoln Academy, a private school with about 570 students that serves as the public high school for surrounding towns, planned two days of mourning, with counseling available both Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. About 150 people showed up at a spontaneous gathering at the school Friday night. They sat in a circle and held candles and left sidewalk chalk messages. Andrew Mullin, associate head of school, said he expected a similar vigil to take place again Saturday night.

His daughter, Constance Mullin, who danced ballet with Isabelle, said everyone is devastated.

“This is heartbreaking for the community,” she said.

The sheriff’s department is continuing to investigate the crash, which shut down Parsons Point Road in Edgecomb for three hours Friday afternoon. Police said Friday they did not know who owned the 2006 Subaru station wagon and how Isabelle came to be driving it. The police did not release any more information about the accident Saturday.

Mayher said the station wagon did not belong to Isabelle’s family. She said the family had received few details about the accident by Saturday.

‘A SPECIAL YOUNG WOMAN’

The sheriff’s office said the car was traveling north when it left the road and crashed into some trees shortly after 2 p.m. Friday. All of the girls were wearing seat belts. Police said driver inexperience and speed may have been factors in the crash. Police said they do not believe alcohol was involved, but an autopsy performed by the state Office of Chief Medical Examiner would determine that.

Isabelle was the daughter of Bryan Manahan, an English teacher at the academy, and Carrie Levine, a nurse midwife who delivered many of Isabelle’s friends, Mayher said.

Both Isabelle and her older brother, Aidan, 18, played fiddle.

“They played fiddle at every school concert and community event for more than a decade. They are familiar, beloved faces in this community,” Mayher said.

Isabelle skied with the Camden Hills Regional High School ski team because Lincoln Academy didn’t have a ski team.

“Her death is a shock to our entire community. I have known her family for a long time. To say she was a special young woman would be an understatement,” said her ski coach, Barry King.

People who knew Isabelle said they are trying to reconcile the girl they knew with the girl who got behind the wheel without a license.

“The whole thing is just so shocking, not only the fact that she is no longer with us but the reasons why,” said Melanie Pagurko, owner of Dance Maineia, where Isabelle was a ballet student for many years. Isabelle was friends with Pagurko’s daughter, Calista. This year both studied ballet at The Ballet School, owned by Elizabeth Drucker, in Topsham.

TRYING TO MAKE SENSE

Pagurko said Isabelle was sweet and good at everything she did. Pagurko said that hours after a fire destroyed her home in Whitefield in the middle of the night last September – her family escaped with only the clothes on their backs – Isabelle was the first one to track them down to where they were staying in Newcastle.

“She came with clothes for Calista,” Pagurko said.

Pagurko said she can’t make sense of the fact that Isabelle was driving without a license.

“I can’t seem to wrap my head around that with all that I know about Isabelle and the remarkable young lady she was,” Pagurko said.

Isabelle had big plans for the summer, Mayher said. She was signed up to train on the schooner Mary Day, out of Camden. She was also headed to an intensive ballet program in Boston.

“She had so many plans. She is going to leave a big hole,” Mayher said.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: bquimby

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