‘It really hits home’
Kelly Franks keeps a box of tissues in the back of her UPS van these days, ready for the moments when she thinks of Drew Reynolds, the friend and mentor who taught her the intricacies of driving a route and establishing relationships with customers.
“He was like my big brother,” Franks, 41, said between deliveries Thursday along Colfax Highway. “I guess this has made me realize how close we all are. I haven’t been myself since this whole thing happened.”
It has been just 10 days since the death of Reynolds, a young husband and father of two. But the intense, instinctive emotions – sorrow for the loss, anger at the man accused of murdering Reynolds – have also met with an outpouring of community support that could not have been predicted.
Few have witnessed this phenomenon better than the 75 local drivers in United Parcel Service’s familiar brown-and-gold trucks. Even workers at the company’s chief competitor, FedEx, say they get the waves, hugs and words of encouragement while making their rounds.
“This is like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said Greg Deppe, operations supervisor for the Grass Valley UPS branch and a 16-year UPS employee.
“You’ll be at a stop sign, and people will be honking, waving,” Deppe said, shaking his head. “I’ve never seen anything like it, ever.
“The funny part is, it’s almost been hard for the guys, who want to tell Drew stories and do their jobs at the same time.”
Known for his barbecue cooking, unflappable demeanor and a wardrobe that always included shorts, Reynolds became an icon of tragedy Jan. 6, when his van was rammed head-on by a large, reportedly stolen commercial truck.
Authorities say Scott Krause, 37, carjacked the truck at a gas station shortly before colliding with Reynolds, 34, on Brunswick Road. Krause, a convicted drug user who was on probation at the time, faces several charges from the crash, including murder.
Within a day of the collision, a memorial had appeared at the crash site and was growing by the hour. Flowers and cards poured into the UPS office.
Whatever competitive juices flowed inside the FedEx headquarters on Spring Hill Drive seemed to vanish the moment of the collision.
Driver Amy Mohr penned a poem in Reynolds’ memory the night after the crash, and it was signed by about 20 of her coworkers.
“You become part of a family when you do these routes,” said Annamarie Andrews, a FedEx driver for 12 years.
Andrews, who periodically worked near the Nevada County Airport by the UPS headquarters, said she ran into Reynolds frequently.
“When you know somebody and see them a lot and they’re just gone…” she said, her voice breaking.
Mohr, 44, said she never thought of Reynolds as a competitor. After all, marriages and relationships between UPS and FedEx drivers have created more than a few “blended” families, she said.
“We all do the same thing – we put on the blue; they put on the brown. It could have been any one of us,” Mohr said.
Delivery company employees weren’t the only ones struck by Reynolds’ death.
At Albertsons in the Fowler Center, store manager Jerry Hanaway said employee Becky Van Norman, a friend of Reynolds’, began collecting donations at the store for a fund at Citizens Bank set up for the Reynolds family.
“It’s just amazing to see how many people were affected by this,” said Hanaway, who didn’t know Reynolds.
The Flour Garden eatery on Sutton Way sent breakfast to the Reynolds home and provided food for the funeral.
“A lot of our people knew him,” manager Nathan Rakestraw said. “It kind of touched everyone, made them realize the gravity of the situation.”
Along her route for UPS, Franks waves to customers with both her truck doors open, the wind blowing her blonde hair back, as Drew Reynolds would have wanted.
“Everybody comes up and hugs their UPS driver now,” Franks said, laughing. “They even know my name now.”
Words of compassion
The following poem was written by FedEx employee Amy Mohr and signed by her coworkers as a note of condolence to UPS after the death of driver Drew Reynolds:
To Our Friends at UPS
We work right near you,
just minutes away.
We do what you do
So when one of yours falls,
it’s like one of our own.
We’re all so close,
it really hits home.
We will join you on Sunday
to celebrate Drew
and if you want to wear brown
we’ll show up in blue.
Love from all your friends
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