Utah artist delivers portrait of teen killed in tubing accident to her family

Mar 18, 2024, 6:27 PM | Updated: Mar 19, 2024, 6:32 am

SANDY — A heartwarming delivery was made Monday from a Huntsville artist to a central Utah family who lost their daughter. Kirsten Beagley, 18 was killed in a tragic tubing accident two months ago this week.

Not a day or hour goes by that Janell and Kyle Beagley don’t think about their precious daughter.

“I break down and cry multiple times a day,” said Janell Beagley, Kirsten’s mother.

“Internal pain that just hurts,” added her father, Kyle Beagley.

Kirsten was a beloved senior at Emery High School in Castle Dale and was tubing in January with a group of friends as part of their activity for the winter formal. The tube she was on overshot the landing and went out into the dry road where she suffered a fatal injury.

Utah family devastated after high school senior killed in tubing accident

On Monday, artist JR Johansen showed up at a family member’s home in Sandy to deliver a precious package.

“Hoping it will be a joyful, comforting experience for them,” Johansen told KSL TV as he walked up to the home’s front door. Monday was the first time the family met Johansen in person.

Over the past seven years, Johansen has painted more than 175 portraits of missionaries who have died while serving. Last year he also painted all 19 children and two teachers killed in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting that happened in May 2022. He’s also been a part of other projects painting service men and women who have died while serving along with other youth whose lives were cut short.

He says he saw the story about Kirsten and was moved to share his gifts with the Beagley family who don’t live far from where he was born and raised.

“You mind if I just open it now?” Kyle Beagley asked.

“It’s beautiful. Thank you,” Kyle Beagley said as he became emotional. The whole family, including Kirsten’s three siblings, paused with emotion and stared at the painting.

“It looks exactly like Kirsten. I love her smile,” 6-year-old Ky Beagley said. “I love her smile. I love her necklace. I love her hair and I love her eyes.”

“We are just so grateful for him for offering to do the portrait and it’s just an amazing gift,” Janell Beagley said. “I’ve always just loved her beautiful blue eyes, just felt that connection (in the painting).”

“Her eyes, the hair, her posture it’s just her, and we love it and we are just so grateful for it. Very meaningful,” Kyle Beagley said.

“It just makes her look alive,” said Jannika, Kirsten’s older sister.

“Her eyes are just gorgeous,” said Clarissa, Kirsten’s younger sister.

Johansen said he can never imagine what the family is going through, but as he paints the portrait he begins to feel a little bit of that pain.

“It’s a very emotional experience usually for me,” he said. “She was still a teenager and so talented and had such a bright future ahead.”

The family said this is a gift that will continue to bring comfort in the days and years ahead.

“I know I will look at it every day multiple times,” Janell Beagley said.

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Utah artist delivers portrait of teen killed in tubing accident to her family