"The accident changed her completely," said Tina's mother, Joy Ayers, Charley Ayers' second wife. "She was in college studying to be a teacher. With the stress of the wreck, her sister dying and her fear of being alone at WVU with the injuries she had, she didn't go back to school. She was too scared.
"Even her personality changed. She used to be happy-go-lucky. Now, she's very serious. She doesn't do the spontaneous things she used to do. She won't get on a bike."
Every day, the family passes the tree with the bark torn off, the one the girls crashed into. "A neighbor offered to cut it down," Joy said, "but we'd still see the stump and that would be twice as bad."
Nobody agonizes over Jessie's death more than Tina. "Her life was taken at the blink of an eye, for something that I had no control over," Tina said, "and yet I feel responsible. This is something that I will have to live with the rest of my life."
"Please don't blame my other daughter for the death of her sister," Charley Ayers said. "If you have to blame anyone, blame me, for it is the parents who let their children on the ATVs."
The family fervently supports strict ATV regulations for young people. "They should wear helmets," Ayers said. "They ought to be more strict on it. I don't know if a helmet would have made a difference, but I am so sorry that I didn't ask her to wear one."
Jessie dreamed of becoming a doctor, he said. "She was very bright. She made good grades. She'd be kind of bashful until she got to know somebody, but then she was windy and asked a lot of questions. She was very curious. She was my baby."
"Jessica was his little angel," Joy Ayers said. "He always called her Jasper."
Joy and Charley Ayers had been married about a year when Jessie died. "We took each other's children as our own," Joy said. "Jessie called me mom, but she missed her mother a great deal." Jessica lost her mother in 1991 after an eight-year battle with cancer. "All she talked about was seeing mommy in heaven."
Tina likes to think that they're together. "Jessie always talked about heaven and that one day she would be with her mother. I believe Jessie is there right now, rejoicing and singing with the angels."
To contact staff writer Sandy Wells, use e-mail or call 348-5173.