Inspiration from Alix Rice

Tammy Schueler was full of emotion as she continued to receive an outpouring of support Sunday afternoon from a crowd of people making their way along Heim Road in Amherst.

Many of them were family and friends, and many were strangers.

Schueler is the mother of Alexandria "Alix" Rice, the 18-year-old skateboarder killed in a hit-and-run incident on the night of July 8, allegedly by a Getzville doctor accused of driving while drunk.

Sunday, Schueler joined about 200 people on a 2-mile memorial walk along Heim, where town police said Rice was fatally struck by a BMW belonging to Dr. James G. Corasanti, a prominent Buffalo Medical Group gastroenterologist and former Erie Community College board chairman.

Corasanti fled the scene of the incident before being arrested an hour and a half later, according to police.

Rice's memorial along the curving stretch of Heim has had several additions over the last two weeks: various flowers, stuffed animals, pictures and a skateboarding helmet.

"I did not know what to expect. It's a hot, summer day, and that's 200 people who found the time," Schueler said. "She touched a lot of us -- that's quite apparent."

The walk was not only organized as a way for loved ones to share memories of Rice, but also aimed to spread awareness of both the dangers of drunken driving and the impact that organ donations can have on people's lives, said Rice's cousin Dan Price.

Rice was a strong supporter of organ donations and had registered. After Sunday's walk, participants had the opportunity to sign up to become organ donors. To Schueler's surprise, 50 did just that.

Donating organs to people in desperate need of transplants was just one example of Rice's commitment to helping others, Price said. "She was very happy. She never wanted for anyone to be upset," he said.

Rice died doing one of her favorite things -- longboarding.

Among those who took part in the memorial walk were several of Rice's close friends riding there own longboards.

Depew resident Greg Fitzpatrick remembers teaching Rice how to ride one about three years ago. Rice, who attended Depew High School prior to transferring to Williamsville North, was practically a natural at the sport.

"I never saw her fall once," Fitzpatrick said.

Talking about Rice's personal qualities, Fitzpatrick said, "She would make a room shine just by being there. She was one of the most generous people I knew."

An Amherst police officer provided an escort for walkers and blocked off part of Heim near the memorial to Rice.

Participants in the walk said they would like to see stiffer penalties for drunken driving.

Regarding the hit-and-run incident that took Rice's life, "I think the real crime is leaving the scene of the accident," said Sue Storck, whose three sons were friends with Rice. "Even if you hit a deer, you get out and check."

Rice was struck at 11:23 p.m. on Heim as she was longboarding toward her father's house from her job at a pizzeria, according to police.

Corasanti, 55, surrendered to police at a Millersport Highway service station at 12:54 a.m., 91 minutes after the fatal incident. Corasanti has been charged with driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of a fatal incident. He is due back in Amherst Town Court on Aug. 10.

The Erie County District Attorney's Office and Amherst police are appealing to the public for witnesses to the fatal incident to come forward and assist in the investigation.