Colleagues remember Krysten Waalk as a dedicated case manager who was passionate about her profession and the clients she served.
Waalk, a Reed High School (Sparks) and 2015 University of Nevada, Reno graduate, died in a three-vehicle crash Wednesday night west of Fallon on the Reno Highway. Her coworkers said Waalk had left work and was driving home to Sparks. The Nevada Highway Patrol has not released any information on the incident because of an ongoing investigation.
Colleagues from both SP Counseling Center in Fallon and Atlas Counseling Center gathered Friday night to discuss their friend.
“Our team is deeply affected by this tragedy,” said Tracey Rubio, regional director for SP Counseling.
Rubio said Waalk spent half her time counseling for SP and the other half for Atlas in Reno, which also has offices in Fernley and other western Nevada communities.
Rubio said the staff met Thursday to pull together to discuss Waalk’s death and how it affected not only them but also those who received counseling from her. Rubio also talked to Waalk’s mother.
“The first thing she said is take care of Krysten’s kids — her clients,” Rubio said.
On Thursday, the staff met with Waalk’s high-school girls who received counseling from the 25-year-old case manager. Waalk was qualified as a mental health associate.
“She was larger than life, a bright light to a room every time she walked in,” Rubio added.
Rubio read a text from Kate Erwin, Fallon’s office manager and Waalk’s direct supervisor. Erwin said Waalk’s teenage clients felt she understood and cared for them and was also able to relate. He said Waalk’s clients loved working with her.
Rubio said the team pulled together to be there for people who saw the news of Waalk’s accident on Facebook.
“We’re teaming up together to work on a process and how we can make it better for everybody involved,” she said.
Georgia Russell, co-owner of Atlas, first met Waalk in a training class and saw the passion she had for her profession as a new case manager.
“She always gravitated to the younger girls like the teens,” Russell said, adding if she were younger, she would have enjoyed having Waalk as a mentor.
Don Posados, co-owner of SP Counseling in Fallon along with founder and co-owner John Phipps, travels to the Lahontan Valley twice a month from his office in Las Vegas. He reflected on Waalk’s contributions.
“Krysten was one of our leaders for the after-school program,” he said. “She was very diligent, had strong leadership with her clients ... with the children.”
Posados said the staff would get together and do activities on the weekend when he visited Fallon. He said he saw how Waalk interacted with others both at and outside the office.
“One of the most in-depth conversations we had was when she talked about her desire to progress her career and to become a therapist,” he recalled. “I supported her and appreciated the drive in her.”
Cathy Robinson, who works on the administrative staff for SP Counseling, said Waalk was incredibly patient when they worked on reports, and Waalk had to add information to satisfy insurance requirements. Robinson knew Waalk for one year but saw how caring she interacted with her clients.
“She was very helpful with people who had issues,” she said.
The co-owner of Atlas Counseling Center in Fernley remembers a lighter side to Waalk.
“She was beautiful, super everything and very fun loving,” said Jenna Morton. “She was motivated and had a lot of big dreams.”
Morton paused, reflecting on the week.
“The last conversation we had was about her wedding. She found her dress last weekend,” Morton said.
To her coworkers, Waalk’s life was blooming. She became engaged to Jericho Crockett in December, and they were planning a Sept. 9 wedding in Bishop, Calif. Morton said Crockett and Waalk were finalizing their wedding plans.
“She was an incredible friend,” Morton added.
Rubio said both SP (775-867-5615) and Atlas Counseling centers (775-337-9359, Reno; 775-575-2284, Fernley) are both available for people who need to express their grief.
A gofundme page has been established at https://www.gofundme.com/Krysten-sMemorialFund.
Morton said a funeral for Waalk will be conducted in Sparks but no date has been set. Waalk is survived by her mother Angela, father David, brothers Dakota (wife Vanessa), Brian and Logan as well as grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and extended family.