The Lamonts made every holiday special. Melanie Corona remembers celebrating New Year’s Eve with fireworks and sparklers illuminating their front yard.
Sydney, Corona’s 11-year-old daughter, also recalls holidays with the Lamonts. Before Christmas gift exchanges, foam Nerf darts flew across the room and children ran, dodging them. Everyone had a role in the rivalry–even the Lamonts’ 2-year-old daughter, Alice, who guarded and collected the darts.
These moments became memories when a private plane crashed in rural Georgia with four Gainesville residents who were heading to a funeral in Indiana June 5. Jody Rae Lamont, 43, her husband, Shawn Charles Lamont, 41, and their two children, Jayce, 4, and Alice, 2, all died in the crash.
Jody’s father, Larry Rae Pruitt, 67, a Morriston, Florida, resident, also died in the crash.
Jody was a senior drug counselor at Metamorphosis, a local rehabilitation center for adults battling addictions, according to an Alachua County Facebook post.
Corona hired Jody at Metamorphosis in 2012. At the time, the 39-year-old didn’t know how close their families would become. She was even there when Jayce and Alice were born.
“I always found it amazing how close of a relationship their family had,” Corona said. “It was important to Jody and Shawn to have family and friends around and to make sure everyone felt loved and supported.”
Shawn always bought the fireworks for New Year’s Eve, Corona said, adding that he always wanted to make the kids happy.
Shawn and Jody owned J & S Trailer Service in Williston, Corona said. They opened the business in 2014 to provide trailer repair and maintenance services.
Jayce was an inquisitive child who questioned everything and loved to be around other kids, Corona said. Alice’s affection was harder to gain, but Corona said once someone got it, it was never lost.
Alice loved playing with bright-colored, button-eyed Lalaloopsy dolls. She enjoyed spending time with older girls, like Sydney. The two painted their nails together.
Jayce always took any phone he could get his hands on to film videos and take pictures of himself with the dog filter on Snapchat.
Corona said one of Sydney’s favorite memories with Jayce and Alice is when they went to the Planet Smoothie in Butler Plaza. The three of them ran around trying to catch lizards they saw on the sidewalk.
Jayce recently became interested in BMX racing, an activity that Alice eventually warmed up to, Corona said. The two childrens’ bikes and helmets were at their funeral on June 19.
Reflecting on her friends’ lives, Corona said Jody touched the lives of about 90 people per year, for 12 years.
Izzy Truman, 31, was Jody’s first patient. She said she was sent to Metamorphosis through drug court after eight years of heroin use. She was at a point where she slept on friends’ couches and had nothing more than a black Jansport backpack to her name.
“I was scared, and I was sure no one could help me,” she said.
Over time, she began going to Jody to talk about breakups, job changes and other life challenges. Jody helped her accept that some things were out of her control and had her process what she was going through, Truman said.
At the end of this year, Truman said she will have seven years of sobriety, a car, a house and a fiancee.
“I owe her my life.” she said. “But it wasn’t just me, Jody touched hundreds of people’s lives.”
Kristen Pohyba, 45, was overcoming alcohol addiction at Metamorphosis before Jody was hired. While Jody wasn’t her personal counselor, Pohyba would run into her at the treatment center and remembers Jody as someone who was always willing to lend an ear.
“If I just needed to sit down and have a normal conversation that wasn’t about addiction, she was always available,” she said.
Jody also held couples counseling sessions for Pohyba and her husband, Michael Harrell, 41, for two years. He said she helped him improve his communication with his wife and everyone in their lives.
In their last session with Jody in 2014, Harrell and Pohyba didn’t want to leave, even telling Jody they could pretend to fight.
“She didn’t just help addicts,” she said. “She helped their families, their extended families and everyone around them to be better people.”
Kristen Pont, 39, went into Metamorphosis kicking and screaming in 2017. She was recovering from opiate addiction and battling feelings of powerlessness.
On her first day, she said she told Jody she’d only stay for the six months required by drug court.
But Jody became someone she could always turn to without judgment. Pont said she continued to have counseling sessions with Jody after she completed the six-month program.
"I know Jody saved my life,” Pont said, “And that’s how she did it, by showing me I had the power to save my own life. So even though she’s not here, I know I have the power to pick myself up and keep going.”
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the age of Izzy Truman. She is 31, not 33.