BROOKLYN, OH - She was working her way through college when her life was suddenly cut short. Loved ones of a young woman killed by a wrong-way driver share their pain.
"You think of burying your parents and even your spouse, but never, ever did I think a granddaughter who's 20 and had a whole life ahead of her," said Cathy Coates, Kayla’s grandmother.
Cathy Coates received the news around 8:00 a.m. Sunday. Her 20-year-old granddaughter Kayla Coates was killed in a car crash.
"He kept saying, she's gone, she's gone, and I said 'what do you mean?'" Coates recalls.
Brooklyn police say just after 4:30 a.m. Sunday, a 48-year-old man was driving eastbound in the westbound lanes on Interstate 480 near Ridge Road when he slammed head on into her car. Kayla died instantly, the other driver survived.
"It was her brand new car, she just got it in December, made her first payment in January," said the victim’s aunt, Tara Kane.
Relatives say Kayla was on her way to work...a manager, opening up the McDonald's at Pearl and Bagley Roads in Middleburg Heights. It was to be her last day on the early morning shift.
Just 18 minutes before the crash she typed her last Facebook posting before leaving home..."last day opening and I'm completely OK with this."
"Kayla was the best person ever...she just made my day so much better, her laugh just made everyone laugh, it was the cutest laugh ever," said coworker Danielle Marco.
"She was really nice, she was nice to everyone, she would try to help out as much as she can, and she was great to work with, and she was just an overall great person," said coworker Chloe Tommasini.
Kayla's relatives say she was working to pay her way through Baldwin Wallace College, where she majored in accounting. The university released a statement, saying in part that the school community is filled with incredible sadness.
Relatives say the crash was so bad that as of Monday afternoon, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner had not yet positively identified the body.
"So to me that’s like, oh maybe she'll show up, maybe it wasn't her, but in all this time, unfortunately, it's become a reality and one that's hard to handle," said Coates.
"It's just gone, like you still think they're gonna walk through the door," said Kane.
The student government at Baldwin Wallace has organized a private memorial gathering at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Strosacker Hall Union Ballroom.
Counselors are also being made available for students.