Rebecca Blair died just after midnight Saturday morning. The 19-year-old was driving on West Loop 289 near 4th Street when police say 22-year-old Bernabe Mendoza III crossed the median and collided head-on with her car.
NewsChannel 11 talked to two people close to Becca about their loss. There was a recurring thread woven throughout all those conversations. Each person spoke of an infectious smile, a young girl full of life who found joy in others and in the teachings of her church. Now, her life has been cut short, police say at the hands of a drunk driver. Gary Baird, Becca's Pastor at Redbud Baptist Church, says, "She was so full of life and energy and she had the greatest smile in the world."
For anyone who opened their newspaper to the obituaries Monday, there was tragic evidence of a sensless loss. Becca's obituary describes her as a caring, loving person who made those around her laugh and feel good about themselves. Pastor Baird says, "One of the great blessings Becca brought to our church was her life and her energy. She truly impacted everyone she met because her smile was contagious her energy was contagious."
Family friend, Grant Gardiner, says, "She will be missed. That infectious smile and laugh you just knew she loved the lord and the lord of course loves her." Grant shared a close spiritual bond with Becca Blair. They shared a passion for spreading the word of the Lord. In fact, Grant saw Becca just a few hours before her death as they shared pictures of his recent mission to Africa.
Grant explains their final parting, saying, "We had just gotten back and she left the house around 9:30 and I hugged her and told her I loved her." Little did Grant know, it would be the last time he talked to Becca.
She leaves behind friends who will forever feel an emptiness because of her death and a family who struggles to cope. Grant says, "I just feel so sorry for them having to go through this. But I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. It'll soon pass but it's tough right now for them." Pastor Baird says, "Each stage there are going to be times when we all have to deal with ther abscence and try to rejoice in the blessing she's experiencing now because of her faith in Christ."
Among all the sorrow at such a painful time, those close to Becca send a message of forgiveness. Their prayers go out Bernabe Mendoza. They are also praying for the three passengers in Blair's car, Laura Pederson who remains at UMC in serious condition, Krissy Murdock who is in fair condition at Convenant and Jackie Clay who was treated and realeased.
The family of Bernabe Mendoza III, the driver of the car who hit the girls, sends heartfelt apologies.