Senior Mackenzie Stuart was heading home last weekend to spend time with family, something she enjoyed and did often, when she lost control of her vehicle and was fatally injured on an icy state highway.
Stuart, 21, was a senior double major in math and computer science at Butler. A homebody with a close-knit family, she drove the two hours home to Aurora, Ind., and back most weekends over the past three and a half years.
Her father, Greg Stuart, said it wasn’t until last semester that she really seemed to be getting used to college life and only went home a handful of times.
“She was maturing and blossoming just now from her shyness,” he said.
Stuart was known for being exceedingly quiet, but she had opened up to a tight group of friends here at Butler.
Senior Katie Wainwright and sophomore David Flynn were two of her closest friends and remember Stuart most for her bright smile and adventurous spirit.
“So many people loved her,” Wainwright said, “and she had no clue. She didn’t realize how cool she was.”
Wainwright was Stuart’s roommate in the Apartment Village and best friend for the past three years. They met in their sophomore year at a men’s basketball game—something Stuart rarely missed.
“My face was all decked out in paint,” Wainwright said. “She still recognized me from class and we started talking.”
Wainwright said they clicked immediately and moved their chairs next to each other in class the next day.
“We hadn’t stopped talking since then,” Wainwright said.
They spent the next three years watching “The Office,” Rollerblading on the Monon Trail, taking white-water rafting trips and visiting Flynn at his home in New York last spring break.
“She was so quiet, I wasn’t sure if she even liked me at first,” Flynn said. “She opened up to me slowly; then she was just awesome.”
Both Wainwright and Flynn were looking forward to spending more time with Stuart this semester. Stuart declared computer science as her second major just last year and took a heavy course load in the fall to catch up. She vowed to be more available during her final semester.
“The last image I have is her on the stairs, promising to hangout more,” Flynn said. “I never even got to see her after break.”
Stuart was on her way home after the first week of spring classes to bring back her fish she took home over break and get some knitting supplies from her mom—something they both enjoyed. Stuart was about 15 minutes from her house when her Mini Cooper, a high school graduation present, slid left of the centerline and was struck by an oncoming SUV.
The family was only able to afford the Mini Cooper after Stuart, an exceptional high school student and cross-country athlete, was awarded a Lilly scholarship, which covered her entire Butler tuition. In a letter to friends and family obtained by The Butler Collegian, her father wrote, “She had personally researched cars and picked that little Cooper and was so in love with it. She was a very careful and cautious driver…”
He also wrote that he had recently used savings to pay off the car, and was going to surprise Mackenzie with the news as a graduation gift. She never got to know.
She was flown to University of Cincinnati Hospital with severe head and internal injuries and taken off of life support on Saturday.
“We were planning to go on spring break together; we were going to graduate together,” said Wainwright, who hasn’t been able to stay in their apartment since the accident. “She was my best friend in the whole world.
“I’m going to miss her so much.”
“It’s way too soon,” Flynn said.
“Yeah,” Wainwright said. “She was only 21.”
Stuart is survived by her parents, Greg and Carolyn, an older sister, Madison, and a younger brother, Sean. A memorial visitation will be held at the Aurora Lions Club building Sunday, Jan. 30 from 2 to 6 p.m.