They had been married less than three months and in a few days planned to tell the world their big news: They were expecting a baby.
But at about 11 a.m. last Sunday on an Asheville, N.C., highway, the Lincoln Town Car in which Will and Jamie Soukup Reid were riding veered out of control, went down a bank and struck a tree.
Jamie Soukup Reid, 25, who grew up in Sammamish, east of Seattle, died at the scene. Will Reid, 26, from Phillipsburg, N.J., was conscious when paramedics arrived and asked that his pregnant wife be treated first. He died later after emergency surgery.
They were carrying a photo of the baby’s ultrasound at the time of the accident. And just the week before, Jamie had affectionately started calling the baby “Peanut,” telling a friend that the ultrasound made it look as though it was waving.
The Reids were in Asheville for a friend’s wedding, and the hired limo driver was taking them back to the Asheville Regional Airport for their flight home to Philadelphia. Both teachers, they were to start a new school year in a few days.
According to Asheville police, the driver, 45, was injured and hospitalized with severe injuries. They have been unable to talk to him but are investigating possible charges against him and waiting for the results of a toxicology test and a report from the car’s digital recording system, which will provide the rate of speed at the time of the crash.
Police say the Reids were wearing seat belts.
The deaths leave networks of friends and family shattered from East Coast to West.
Will’s mother, Anne Reid, told the New York Daily News on Wednesday that the couple “lived for one another — up until the end” and that it didn’t surprise her that he would think of Jamie first when he needed medical care.
The couple met in the University of Philadelphia’s urban-education master’s program. They came to the university through the Teach for America program, which places high-achieving graduates in impoverished communities. Both Reids were dedicated to teaching inner-city students, say friends.
Will Reid taught math, and Jamie Reid taught English and writing, for Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia, a program for inner-city students that the Reids were especially devoted to, friends say.
“Jamie was really committed to her kids,” her friend Stephanie Silver said. “She was committed to teaching.”
According to her friends, Jamie’s favorite color, rainbow, speaks volumes about her loving nature, which made her a gifted teacher.
“I’d tell her, ‘Jamie that’s not a color. It’s many colors,'” Silver recalled. “But she’d say, ‘I love them all.'”
Jessica Pixler Tebo, a friend since junior high, said, “She had a heart for making sure everyone felt included and loved. She was a champion of the underdog. She’d pick fights with people she thought were bullies and do things most people were too terrified to do.”
Jamie’s first teaching job in Philadelphia didn’t go well, and there were many tearful phone calls home to her parents.
“I just wanted to tell her to come home,” her father, Ron Soukup, said. Instead, he let her learn and grow.
When Jamie met Will, and started teaching at the charter school, suddenly life was good, and her friends say they had never seen her so happy.
When the family met Will, Ron Soukup said, he quickly loved him as a son. The May 26 wedding in Philadelphia was a joyful event.
“To see this couple in love … and two families wanting to be in each other’s lives was wonderful,” said Silver, who was the maid of honor.
For the father-daughter dance, Jamie and her dad did the Twist, and the entire wedding turned into a dance party, friends said.
In the wedding toast, Soukup acknowledged that many attending the wedding were from the Teach for America program.
“They went to the inner city of Philadelphia to give of themselves,” he said. “I could not have been more proud” to have Jamie and Will be a part of such a group.
Jamie graduated from Eastlake High School in Sammamish and graduated magna cum laude in honors English at Whitman College.
Will was the valedictorian for Phillipsburg High School Class of 2005 and earned a rare perfect score on his SAT, Soukup said. Will received a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College.
Both Reids finished master’s degrees in urban education from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2012.
A dual funeral was Saturday in Phillipsburg, N.J. At 1 p.m. Aug. 25 there will be a celebration of life for Jamie and Will at the Plateau Club, 25625 E. Plateau Drive, Sammamish.
Donations may be made to Jamie Soukup Reid Memorial Scholarship fund, Whitman College, 345 Boyer Ave., Walla Walla, 99362; or to the William and Jamie Reid Scholarship Fund, Phillipsburg High School, 200 Hillcrest Blvd., Phillipsburg, N.J., 08865, with checks payable to Phillipsburg High School.