Who was Kelly Levinsohn?
Family and friends are mourning the loss of a woman who they said was a positive presence for many patients she cared for as an emergency medical technician (EMT.)
Kelly Levinsohn, an Advanced EMT with Care Ambulance, was killed Saturday night at her home in Columbus. William Leonard Talley, a Columbus police sergeant, has been charged with shooting her and stealing her car, according to police.
Friends identified Talley as Levinsohn’s boyfriend.
While those who knew her are upset about the tragic loss of life, they’re also remembering someone who was incredibly sweet, fiercely loyal and always working to save the lives of others.
A loyal friend
Levinsohn’s friend for the past 10 years, Staci Warman, still referred to Levinsohn in the present tense as she described her.
The two met when Warman was working in registration at the then-Columbus Regional Medical Center and Levinsohn brought patients in to the hospital.
“She was the best friend anybody really could ever have. She was the most loyal person and you could always count on her in any situation,” she said.
Warman said she last talked to Levinsohn on April 15, the day after Levinsohn’s birthday. Levinsohn was on a birthday trip in Aruba with her mother, Wylma.
Warman said the two were supposed to catch up over lunch this past Thursday while she was in town for a hair appointment. The appointment ran long and the two were unable to meet, to Warman’s regret.
She said Levinsohn was a private person and very nonchalant about everything. She kept her work separate from their friendship, and never really discussed it.
Levinsohn loved animals, especially her dog, Finley, who Warman said was a “huge part of her life.”
“Her dog was her child,” Warman said. “She went everywhere with her. On her day to work for 24 hours, she would go to her mom’s and her mom would take the dog and she’d pick the dog up in the morning.”
Warman reflected on many of the happy parts of her friend’s life.
“Her smile was the most contagious part about her and she always knew how to make everything better,” Warman said.
Kay Witt said she had known Levinsohn since she was a child..
“She had an adventurous, independent spirit,” Witt said. “She decided she was going to leave Columbus, got in her car and drove to Wyoming. She opened a store with a friend in Jackson Hole, and she lived in New Mexico for a little bit. She loved it while she was there and when she came home she decided she wanted to be an EMT.”
In addition to loving her job and her pets, Witt said Levinsohn was her mother Wylma’s rock.
“When her dad was ill, was passing away from cancer, and it took months, she was there by her mom’s side when she wasn’t working,” Witt said.
And the two would often vacation together, including their most recent trip of a lifetime to Aruba.
“She and her mom were best friends...her mom is left with a good memory,” Witt said. “They spent a week in Aruba and had an absolute ball, snorkeling, driving around, laying on the beach, eating, all the things that you would do in your fantasy vacation, they did.”
When Wylma talks about her daughter, the pride and love are visible in her eyes, Witt said.
“Everybody that met her loved her,” Witt said. “Having known her since she was a little girl, it is extremely hard to talk about someone in the past tense who you still think of in the present tense.”
Part of the team
Levinsohn had worked at Care Ambulance in Columbus for the past 12 years, according to Muscogee Coroner Buddy Bryan.
Bryan knew Levinsohn during that time, both in her professional capacity as well as through a friend of his son’s.
He said she always had a “big beautiful smile,” “twinkling eyes” and always gave him a big hug whenever she saw him.
He said her death was a shock to the entire public safety team in Columbus because she was so friendly and well-liked.
“She was very dedicated to her job. It’s a hard job, both physically and mentally hard. She took it in stride, never showed any kind of negative mood towards one of the patients that she was transporting,” Bryan said. “She was always there to ease the patient’s pain and suffering, and she was just the kind of person you would want to see come to the scene to be with you.”
Bryan said Levinsohn was “extremely sweet,” a nice, friendly face on many scenes that were depressing even for someone used to their line of work.
“In our line of business, me as a coroner and her as an EMT, we see a lot...car accident victims, gunshot victims, stabbing victims, sick people,” he said. “(Levinsohn) was a very emotionally stable person...she kept a level head the whole time and I praised her for that quite often.”
He also said she was curious and eager to learn.
“When we’d been out on a scene and only the coroner was allowed to participate in some activities, she’d pull me aside and say ‘Mr. Buddy I’d sure like to see that.’ She’d follow me around to gain more experience and knowledge, she was curious about certain aspects of my job for sure,” Bryan said. “She’s going to be missed.”
A wonderful neighbor
Neighbors say Levinsohn lived in the home on Pratt Avenue, near where Moon Road intersects Miller Road, for at least four years. They said she was the friendly type of neighbor who waved as people passed by and acknowledged others.
She was a “wonderful” neighbor and friend, and “hard-working,” according to a neighbor named Fonda. Fonda did not wish to disclose her last name.
The two were good friends and had vacationed together in Florida, Fonda said. She took in Levinsohn’s dog, Finley, after the Saturday incident.
Mourned by a community
Bryan said that Levinsohn’s mother Wylma was making her way back from Israel Monday to bury her daughter. In Wylma’s absence, Bryan said he is personally making sure her body is treated with respect, as it is currently in Atlanta for an autopsy.
The community at Shearith Israel Synagogue in Columbus, where the Levinsohn family are members, is waiting to receive it.
Gerald Siegel is a synagogue member in charge of the burial committee. He said that funeral details are dependent upon receipt of Levinshon’s body.
“She was very loving and caring,” Siegel said. “She was very good at what she did and everyone seemed to like her a lot.”
Siegel said the loss is especially painful for the family because Levinsohn’s father had also recently passed.
“It’s a sad situation for the family and the community,” he said.