Family of woman killed in Lake of the Ozarks boat crash starting charity in daughter’s honor

OLATHE, Kan. -- The family of one of the victims killed in a Lake of the Ozarks boat crash last month is hoping to turn a tragedy into something positive.

She was pretty used to going to the lake," Hailey Hochanadel's mom Lisa Schuster said. "It was a common thing. So when she said she was leaving that Friday, it was like every other time she`d go to the lake.”

It was May 19, when Schuster said her nightmare happened. 

“I got a phone call from a friend who has a place down at the lake,” Schuster said. “We didn't know any details, just that Hailey could have been or might have not been on the boat. But it`s no phone call you want to get.”

A late-night boat crash at the Lake of the Ozarks left three people dead and two injured near Camden, Missouri. Schuster’s daughter, 21-year-old Hailey Hochanadel, was one of the three killed that day.

Hailey Hochanadel

“She was on the boat, and she was missing. There were divers looking for her, and I can`t explain how that feels -- to know there are divers looking for your sisters in the lake,” said Morgan Hochanadel, Hailey’s older sister.

A crash report says the boat hit a rock bluff. The force of the impact tossed the operator and three passengers, including Hochanadel, into the water.

Divers found her body hours later. 

“After her passing, there was just an outpouring of love and support and just kind comments and things that people said about Hailey and the kind of person she was,” Schuster said. “It just made me want to try and do something positive out of tragedy.”

Hochanadel's family is now hoping to help others in need, just like she always did. 

“Hailey was always one that just was always thinking about the other person,” Schuster said.

“She was an amazing person,” Morgan Hochanadel said.

They're starting a foundation to honor Hochanadel in her fight against bullying and promoting kindness. People have already donated more than $12,000

“Within days of her passing -- and I didn`t even know I was going to start anything yet -- I had this phrase come to me and it was 'Kindness Carries Love,'" Schuster said. “I just thought, if there`s a way to honor her and help others at the same time, that`s why we started it.”

“Something good had to happen, and I know if we`re able to pass a fraction of what she was giving to people when she was alive, then it would be worth it,” Morgan Hochanadel said.

Hailey's family said the last few weeks have been a struggle.

“Just trying to keep busy and just trying to build something positive out of something totally horrific and just try to focus my energy on that because if I don`t, it`s just tough,” Schuster said.

And the hope is that Hailey's positivity and love for others lives on.

Her family said they hope the foundation will help people through random acts of kindness. They are also considering establishing a scholarship in her name at the University of Missouri.