By Tom Regan, WSB-TV
HALL COUNTY, Ga. – The lives of two families were forever changed last week by a crash that killed two young women and a 9-month-old baby.
Hannah Simmons; Simmons’ daughter, A’lannah Hopkins; and Lauren Buteau were killed in the wreck on Georgia State Route 347 on April 25.
Authorities said the three were returning from a doctor’s appointment when Simmons lost control of her car and veered into the path of the truck.
“It’s challenging how to live your life day to day without the people who were there for you every day,” Paige Wilson told Channel 2’s Tom Regan.
Wilson said the victims were her cousins.
“Hannah, that was my best friend,” she said. “She was my maid of honor and the godmother of my children. A’lannah was my goddaughter.”
Wilson said the loss of her Goddaughter is heartbreaking.
“A’lannah was just like her mother, the most infectious child in the world,” she said.
According to Wilson, Simmons was engaged to marry Javont’e Hopkins and was two months pregnant with their child.
“We were working on planning her wedding,” she said.
Wilson said she was also very close with Buteau.
“Lauren was the life of the party. She could light up any room and make anyone laugh,” Wilson said.
While the family continues grieving, it says it’s getting hope and peace from a picture called “A Pathway to Heaven.”
“I’m at peace with this because I know they’re in a better place than we are now,” Jodie Carter said.
Carter said she’s finding strength through faith after her niece, Buteau, and her cousins died.
She said the photo, which was taken by a driver moments after the crash, appears to show a streak of light coming from the sky.
“It took my breath away. Chills covered my body. And then a peace came over me,” she said.
While some may discount the image as a sun flare on the camera lens, she sees something profound and divine.
“I see God taking them up to heaven,” Carter said. “Their spirits, their orbs are up there. No other explanation.”
Another cousin, Paige Winston, said she questioned her faith immediately after the crash. But seeing the picture has changed her perspective.
“When I saw the picture, it completely reassured me. We may not understand why things happen like this,” Winston said.