SEATTLE — A West Seattle couple is being remembered for their contagious joy.
Both died instantly in a hit-and-run crash and their friends are sharing a heartfelt message.
An intoxicated driver is blamed for the crash that left two young children without their parents.
A GoFundMe campaign has already raised more than $250,000 for the kids.
The mom’s lifelong friends are rallying to help this family.
They describe her as the glue who held them together since high school. But she and her husband were killed in a horrific accident on Ambaum Boulevard.
Now friends are wrapping themselves around their two children.
They have been friends since before they went to Holy Names High School, now accomplished women, married with their children, too.
“We’ve all gone to college and made other friends but we’ve all managed to stay together,” said Kathleen Ross. “And mostly that’s because of Lauren.”
Thirty-five-year-old Lauren Dupuis-Perez, an only child, formed an unshakable bond with Ross, Claire Jesse and Maris Jaeger-Grigalunas.
“Oh, God,” said Jaeger-Grigalunas, laughing as she wiped away tears. “She would tell me, if I bought something that looked awful she would be like, ‘yes, no.’ You guys are too nice about it.”
“And her baking and her gardening and her presence, her fun presence,” said Jesse.
“Yeah, we talked every day,” added Jaeger-Grigalunas.
“Every day,” said Ross. “Text message. G-chat. Marco Polo.”
A lifetime of conversations ended abruptly in Burien 10 days ago.
Prosecutors say an intoxicated 26-year-old Seattle woman, with her own 3-year-old son in the car, sideswiped one vehicle, sped off, then slammed into the car carrying Lauren and her husband Kamel. Both are gifted artists; he, a photographer; she, a writer.
The couple, married since 2011, and parents for the last eight years, died in an instant.
“We always want to keep talking about her,” said Jesse.
“What happened to them is not the most important thing about them,” said Jaeger-Grigalunas.
“Yeah,” said Jesse, “that’s also part of it.”
Lauren was the glue in their lives, they said, and now, in death.
“We’re going to share her children between the three of us,” said Ross. “We’ll share them with other people, their grandparents, their friends, whoever they marry someday. But we won’t ever let go of those kids. And she is so present in them, that she will never be forgotten.”
The family is planning to celebrate their lives sometime in June.
The woman suspected of killing them, Irene Plancarte-Bustos, is to be arraigned on several charges including vehicular homicide.