Alyssa Marie BYRNE

Alyssa Byrne, a 19-year-old college student from Petaluma, was known for her love of sports and for her ability to light up a room with her frequent smile. An aspiring paramedic-firefighter who passed away in the Tahoe snow on New Year's Eve, she will be deeply missed by her family and her many friends. Alyssa was a student at Santa Rosa Junior College and a hostess at Cattlemens in Petaluma. She graduated from Casa Grande High School in 2011. She was a standout athlete in several sports, particularly lacrosse. She started playing lacrosse with the Petaluma River Cats in junior high school and she is the only Petaluma girl known to have played for both the Petaluma and Casa Grande teams. She also was an assistant coach last year for the U13 Petaluma River Cats lacrosse team. She was known for the spark and energy she brought onto a playing field or into a room. She was a fearless, hilarious and feisty girl who always had a sparkle in her blue eyes, said her mother, Kim Byrne. She loved her family, her large group of friends and the family dogs, including her dog Skyler, her mother said. "She was always 110 miles an hour," said Kevin Byrne, Alyssa's father. She was born so suddenly the doctor and nurses couldn't get to the delivery room in time, and her father had to catch her himself. Her plan was to go to a four-year college where she could continue playing lacrosse and complete her courses to become a paramedic-firefighter. She wanted to do something in the medical field, and the action of responding to emergencies to care for people would be a perfect fit for her personality, said her family. "You talk to all her friends and she was the one that doctored them and took care of them," said her father. "So I think it would fit her perfectly." She started playing sports in the third grade and never stopped. Although lacrosse was her favorite, she played baseball, softball and basketball as well. She was the only girl playing on boys Little League teams until she was 14, helping the Petaluma Giants team win the division title in 2006. "She was a little girl who wore a baseball cap everywhere she went," said her father. Her family wants to thank the Petaluma community and all the family friends who gave support during and after the search for Alyssa. In addition to her parents, she is survived by her brother, Gregory Byrne, also of Petaluma; grandparents, Michael Byrne of Novato, Diane and Ashton Hutchins of Novato, Jack and Sandy Miller of Moses Lake Wash., Judy and Arturo Barrera of Concepcion, Texas; aunts, Maureen Running of Sacramento, Samantha Miller of Rohnert Park, Dolores Bruns of Rohnert Park, Elizabeth Miller of Rohnert Park; and uncles, Brian Byrne of San Francisco, Jack Miller Jr. of Windsor, Ty Wong of Rohnert Park; and several cousins. A public memorial will be held 10:00 a.m. Saturday at the Casa Grande High School gym, 333 Casa Grande Rd. The family suggests wearing pink clothing for Alyssa. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be sent to the KlaasKids Foundation and the Polly Klaas Foundation.

Published Online in the Press Democrat from Jan. 10 to Jan. 11, 2013