CASCADE, Idaho — Loved ones of the woman killed in a hit-and-run crash earlier this week are grieving the loss of a loving mother, wife, sister and friend.
Kristina Rowley was killed while checking her trailer on the side of Highway 55 outside Eagle on Monday night.
"She was an angel on earth, now she is an angel in heaven," said Rose Rowley, Kristina's sister-in-law.
Rose and other family members of the 39-year-old Cascade school art teacher remember her for the light she brought.
"She is the first one you see in the family that has a big smile and a welcoming, 'Hello, how are you?' so she definitely helps bring us together," Rose said.
The Ada County Sheriff's Office says Kristina was killed after being hit by a minivan while standing off the side of the road to check the back of her trailer on Highway 55 between Beacon Light and Seamans Gulch Road. Deputies found Kristina badly injured and began first aid. Paramedics took her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead a short time later.
While the tragedy from Monday night brought the Rowley family together this time, they don't want to dwell on that. Instead, they're celebrating Kristina's life and honoring everything she achieved.
"I can't figure out how she balanced everything in her life to accomplish everything that she did," Michael Rowley, Kristina's brother-in-law.
Kristina's family calls her an ambitious person who always set her sights on a new goal.
"She decided a few years ago that she was going to finish her [teaching] degree and one of the reasons was to set an example for her kids," Michael said.
Another goal Kristina set her sights on was building a home from scratch in the mountains. Michael said Kristina and her husband Chris used every dime they had and bought a lot of land in Cascade. From there, they used their own knowledge and tools, along with the help of some of her family, to build their dream home.
"Kristina she was in there drilling holes, pulling electrical wire, [laying] tile, pretty much everything she could do she did," Michael said.
But perhaps one of her biggest accomplishments was being a dedicated mother to three teenagers, Megan, Carson and Hannah, as well as a loving wife.
"She wanted people to know how much they are valued and loved," Rose said.
Her sisters and brother-in-law said Kristina's loving and nurturing spirit wasn't something she just picked up, she was born with that light.
"I don't think it was taught; I don't think it was learned – that's just Kristina," Michael said.
This week, Kristina's impact on the community is evident as businesses around Valley County, Harpos Convenience Store and Tackle Tom's Sporting Goods, put up messages of support for her family.
While she still had so much more she wanted to accomplish, her family knows she lived every day to the fullest and doesn't think she would change a thing about the life she lived.
"She didn't live a life she could regret - she just loved and loved people," said Mindy Rowley, another of Kristina's sisters-in-law. "She dreamed big and she achieved those dreams."
Michael said Kristina was only a few classes away from getting her teaching degree from Boise State. He called the University on Thursday morning and explained what happened to his sister-in-law and said the school would award Kristina her diploma.
"That means so much, so much to the whole family," Michael said. "When we told Chris and the kids the news, he broke down just crying because he knew how important that was to Kristina."
The Family plans to have a viewing at Potter Funeral Homes in Emmett from 6 - 8 p.m. on August 14. Funeral services for Kristina are planned at Church of Jesus Christ for Latter Day Saints Chapel in Emmett on Central Rd. for 1 p.m. on August 15. There will also be another viewing at the Funeral Home at noon on August 15.
Natalie Hodson, 37, is charged with vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of an injury crash. She was booked into the Ada County Jail early Tuesday morning. In her initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon, the judge set her bond at $50,000. Prosecutors had asked for $250,000.
Watch more Local News:
See the latest news from around the Treasure Valley and the Gem State in our YouTube playlist: