Friend heartbroken after American family involved in deadly Jasper crash identified: 'They were always together'

WATCH ABOVE: We are learning more about the American family involved in a deadly crash near Jasper on Tuesday evening. Two members of the family died, while two others are in hospital and a baby escaped unscathed. Julia Wong has the details.

A Louisiana woman who was close friends with a woman seriously injured in a deadly crash in Jasper, Alta. earlier this week said she was devastated when she learned the news.

“It’s nothing that you expect to hear. Our heart is broken for Sarah and her family and step-dad. We just are praying for Sarah and the family right now that she is OK and that she can be here for their son,” Robin Herring said by phone from Louisiana on Thursday.

Herring has known Sarah Copeland for several years, having worked with her at the Cornerstone Child Development Center in Bossier City, La. Copeland, a kindergarten teacher in Pearland, TX, was seriously injured in a fiery head-on crash that claimed the lives of six people south of Jasper on Tuesday evening.


READ MORE:
6 people killed in crash south of Jasper

Copeland’s mother, Angela Dye Elkins, and husband, Nick Copeland, were killed in the crash. Her step-father, Curtis Elkins, was also injured in the crash. Her two-year-old son managed to escape unscathed.

“It’s very hard. When I found out it was just a shock,” Herring said on Thursday.

“She just started her life with the man that she loved and they have this precious baby. So the thought that, not only has she lost her mom but her husband at the same time, it’s just heartbreaking and I can’t even wrap my head around it.”

The crash happened at around 5 p.m. Tuesday on Highway 93 at Honeymoon Lake. The site is located about 60 kilometres south of the Jasper townsite.

RCMP said a van heading north on the highway collided head-on with a southbound vehicle. Both vehicles caught fire.

The southbound vehicle was carrying four people, all of whom were killed. RCMP have not released any information about them.

A third vehicle that swerved to avoid the crash ended up in the ditch. Two people inside the vehicle suffered minor injuries, police said.

Watch below: Two Americans have been identified among the six people killed in a head-on crash near Jasper earlier this week. They were part of a family of five involved in the crash. 

Herring described Copeland and her family as extremely close, even though they lived in different states.

“ were always together. They actually joked about Sarah when her and Nick got married. They were moving to Texas, that way she could be with him and they could start their family. And Angela always joked about moving over there to be with Sarah, live next door and put a gate between their fence — that way they could be together all the time,” Herring said fondly.

“She lived for Sarah,” Herring said of Copeland’s mother. “That was her only child and she just lived for her. She was very compassionate, not just to Sarah but to anyone she came into contact with. Very happy, pleasant woman. She always had a smile on her face. She always put her family first as well. She loved Nick just as he was her own. Their dynamic as a family was just amazing.”

Herring said the love between Copeland and her husband was also very apparent.

“He loved her. He just gave her a lifetime of love in the years that they were together,” Herring said of Nick Copeland.

“They respected each other. They put each other first. They weren’t a couple that would fight over things. They just were always very compassionate about each other, but they would always make sure that they understood each other, and her feelings were important to him and his feelings were very important to her.”

Watch below: Six people are dead following a devastating crash near Jasper, Alta. Vinesh Pratap has the details.

Sophie Launay with Fidelity Investments said Nick Copeland started working at the firm in 2011.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death,” she said, adding he was “very well liked and respected. He will be greatly missed by those with whom he worked with these past seven years. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Nick’s family.”

Freedom Church, which the family is involved with, posted a statement Thursday afternoon on its Facebook page, asking for specific prayers for the family.

“First, that Curtis is able to be transferred to the same hospital as Sarah so that they can all be near one another. Second, that they can figure out how to get everyone home as soon as possible. This is going to be a long process,” the statement read in part.

“Thank you for every thoughtful word, act of kindness and prayer you have lifted up. There is no way we would be able to bear this great loss without you all. We will update on our page, as we can, in the coming days. The best thing you can do is to continue praying. Many of you have also asked to give and we are so incredibly grateful for your generosity.”

The severity of the injuries suffered by Copeland and her step-father are not known. The school board Copeland works for said it is providing resources to staff and students in need of support.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation. RCMP said they anticipate an update will be released on Thursday afternoon.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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