They were close friends who danced their way through life.
Meagan Lofthouse, 19, and Brittany Wardle, 21, had a lot in common: They were known for the smiles, positive attitudes and falling madly in love with dance as children.
The two Tillsonburg women set off for a friend’s birthday party in Brantford Saturday, but what was supposed to be a night of celebration turned into a tragedy when Lofthouse’s car left the road shortly before 10 p.m. while travelling east on La Salette Rd. in Norfolk County.
The vehicle went down a steep ditch and struck a tree, killing both women.
Wardle’s father, Mark, said his daughter left the house around 9 p.m.
Around midnight the police showed up at the door.
His first fatherly instinct was that his daughter had gotten into some sort of youthful mischief.
“I thought for sure it’s going to be drinking or something silly that a young person would do,” he said.
But his heart sank after noticing police were accompanied by member’s of the victim’s assistance team.
“Then I knew I was in trouble.” said Mark, who described his daughter as an “outgoing and outspoken” young woman.
Still in shock Sunday, the distraught dad couldn’t believe his youngest daughter was dead.
“I needed to see the body to make sure it was her,” he said after leaving the funeral home, his voice breaking at times.
The death of the two popular women is sending shock waves through the Tillsonburg community.
Especially hard hit is DanceScene, where Wardle taught hip hop dance, and Lofthouse had been a longtime student.
Around 80 people gathered outside the studio Sunday afternoon for a balloon launch in memory of the women.
Grieving family members, friends, young students and their parents watched as pink, gold and purple balloons floated into the air.
“We have a very tight dance community,” said DanceScene secretary Kathy MacKinnon. “We’re handling it as best we can.”
Both Lofthouse and Wardle were known for their love of life, MacKinnon said.
Wardle, who had one older sister, was a student at Wilfred Laurier’s Brantford campus. She wanted to be a social worker after graduation.
One of three daughters, Lofthouse was a student at Humber College in Toronto.
Though police haven’t determined what caused the crash, alcohol wasn’t suspected.