An 18-year-old woman who "believed in God" and wanted to live a "right life" died in a tragic crash Sunday, less than 24 hours after she got married to her 22-year-old fiancé, who is now beside himself with grief over the tragedy.
Residents in the Harrisburg, Illinois, community who knew her mourned the death of recent Harrisburg High School graduate, Machaela "Katie" Sherrod, as news of her death spread.
According to a WSILTV report, Katie crashed her pickup truck on a stretch of Tuller Road, which is about a half-mile south of Carrier Mills, for reasons still unknown to the police. She died at the scene after driving off the road and flipping down an embankment. Her husband, John Gould, 22, was taken to an Evansville hospital where he is expected to survive.
"We're just all stunned, really. Anytime you lose a student, you just think of all the possibilities and you remember all the wonderful things that happened with them," Katie's former art teacher Sara Deneal told WSILTV.
She explained that Katie had a passion for art and was the kind of student every teacher wanted in their classroom. She also said Katie couldn't stop smiling after she got engaged to John.
"She even invited me to her wedding, and she was just so excited about that. And I met him, hopefully, he's going to be okay. But I know he was head over heels in love with her," recalled Deneal.
Breonna Irvin, described as a friend and former colleague who worked with Katie at Harrisburg Burger King, said her friend had faith in God and didn't deserve to die so young.
"I know Katie is in a better place. She believed in God and she got married at 18," said Irvin. "She wanted to live a right life, and I think she's okay."
Katie's husband, on the other hand, is distraught over the death of his young bride.
"John tried his best. I talked to his grandparents today. ... He tried his best to save her," she told WSILTV before explaining that he was having a lot of trouble emotionally.
A gofundme campaign seeking to raise $11,682 for Katie's funeral costs has already raised more than $7,000 of that amount and they are praying the public will help them raise the rest of the money.
"As they were so young and starting their life together no life insurance policy was in place. We are asking all of our friends and family to donate anything they can at this time. We are hoping to cover the costs of Katie's funeral and burial. We also are accepting prayers for Katie's parents, Scott and Connie Sherrod, as well as her siblings, Joe Sherrod, Jimmy Sherrod and Amanda (Jared) Cooper," noted a message from the campaign.