Friends and family of Allysa Huffstutler said the 19-year-old public relations major was a strong-willed individual who was compassionate, intelligent and loving.
After almost three days of searching, Blount County authorities confirmed Friday, June 21, that Huffstutler had drowned after a tubing accident on the Locust Fork of the Warrior River.
Huffstutler’s younger sister, Aspen Huffstutler, said her sister was a bright light that would shine happiness on everyone she met while going out of her way to help those around her.
“She was my big sister,” Aspen said. “She had a laugh that would make even the most depressed person laugh. She was the type of person that would do anything to help anyone no matter what the situation was. She was a go-getter, and the most beautiful person. She loved shopping. She always told me what I needed to wear to everything I went to, and did my hair and make up for every pageant, prom, everything thing I had.”
Aspen also remembered times spent with her older sister Allysa. She recalled an instance when Allysa acted as her guardian in the very place where Allysa would eventually lose her life.
“She was the true definition of big sister,” Aspen said. “I keep thinking about the last time we were on that river and we flipped our canoe and my Chaco got stuck in a rock and she pulled me out of it. She was always there to protect me no matter what.”
Aspen said Allysa valued her time at the Capstone and was proud to be a member of the Tuscaloosa community and a UA student.
“She loved Alabama and always said Tuscaloosa is the best place on Earth,” Aspen said.
Lindsey Shirley, a student at the University of North Alabama, was a close friend to Huffstutler and had known her for the majority of her life.
“Allysa and I have been best friends since third grade. No argument could keep us apart long,” she said. “I would say we completed each other. Allysa was quiet and sweet; I was loud and silly.”
Shirley also recalled Huffstutler’s humorous disposition, which in her opinion, complemented her loving nature.
“She would laugh at anything and everything – [Allysa] always was my backbone,” she said. “In high school when my parents divorced, she was there for me. She had a kind heart and a loving personality. She had the best advice about boys and stupid drama. We could talk about anything and everything.”
Shirley said among Huffstutler’s many qualities, her love for fun and adventure are worth remembering.
“Adventure should have been her middle name,” she said. “She would be the first to try things: jumping off cliffs, parasailing off her dad’s boat, dragging a car hood over the snow. No dare left undone with this girl.”
Above all, Shirley said remembers Huffstutler as a woman of God who was willing to share her faith with others.
“Most importantly, she loved God,” Shirley said. “When I was in seventh grade she prayed with me as I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. That is something I will be grateful for forever. I love her with all my heart and can’t wait to see her when I go to meet God.”
After the news of Huffstutler’s disappearance, an outpour of public support came from many different communities and organizations with which she was involved.
Alpha Omicron Pi, Huffstutler’s sorority, released a statement on Facebook following the news of her death that extended its deepest condolences while recognizing those who aided in search efforts.
“Our hearts and thoughts are with Allysa’s family and loved ones, and the women of our Alpha Delta Chapter,” the status said. “We are endlessly thankful to the AOII volunteers and members who have shown our women comfort and support during this difficult time, and also to the local law enforcement and search crews who worked tirelessly and always with hope for a positive outcome.”
Mark Nelson, vice president for student affairs, extended the University’s condolences in a released statement.
“The University of Alabama family extends its thoughts and prayers to Allysa’s family and friends during this sad and difficult time,” Nelson said. “She was a valued member of the campus community, and we will miss her.”
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, June 26 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Oneonta followed by the funeral at 2 p.m.