Emily Daye had been at her boyfriend’s house Saturday night when she left briefly to go to Publix near Anderson Hills, a family friend said Monday.
“She was coming home (to her boyfriend’s house), when another car went left of the center line and hit her car head-on,” said Dr. Thomas Pieplow, her advisor at Athens State University and a longtime family friend.
Daye’s boyfriend, Garrett Jones, a Monrovia volunteer firefighter, was paged to the wreck on Alabama 53 at Harvest Road and responded only to find one of the victims was Emily.
The 24-year-old Sparkman High School softball standout, who gave up an athletic scholarship to pursue her dream of becoming an elementary school teacher, was declared dead at the scene, Pieplow said. An Alabama state trooper declined to disclose the cause of the wreck pending completion of the investigation.
The driver of the other vehicle, Caren Rush, 30, of Huntsville, also injured in the wreck, was listed in fair condition Monday at Huntsville Hospital, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Pieplow was more than an advisor to Emily, he had known her since the day she was born to Karen King Daye and Phillip Daye.
“I watcher her mom get married and have children,” Pieplow said.
First-born Emily was followed by Anna and Brandon.
“I knew her mother, and I had once worked for her grandfather,” Pieplow said. “I watched her grow into an exceptional student and an extraordinary human being. Whether it was academics or athletics, she always exceeded every expectation. She was truly a leader in everything she did.”
Daye — who was twice selected all-state shortstop in high school and, as a junior, helped the Lady Senators win the 6A state softball title in 2006 — accomplished more in her 24 years than most do in a lifetime, Pieplow said.
“During her short time on this earth, she left a mark,” Pieplow said. “Many would have to spend an entire lifetime to leave such a legacy. She touched a lot of people, and she will be missed in a great way.”
Her heart was in teaching, he said.
“She loved teaching so much that she actually turned down an athletic scholarship to the University of North Alabama to pursue her passion,” he said.
While attending college, she worked at Harvest Elementary after-school care.
Nancy Croomes, assistant to field experience and internship at ASU, described Daye similarly.
“She was a really sweet girl,” Croomes said. “She was an elementary major and she was really good with the children.”
Dr. Lisa Brizendine Hyde, assistant professor of elementary education at ASU, who advised Daye as an elementary education major and also taught her, also fondly remembered the dedicated student.
"I began to know her in the summer of 2010," Hyde said. " She was always on top of her studies, planned ahead for each semester and was really excited about becoming a teacher. I believe she truly found her calling when she chose to become an educator. It's very difficult to grasp how we lost such a gifted young lady who has touched so many lives and undoubtedly would have been an inspiration to the little ones she aspired to teach."
Visitation for Daye will be from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday at Berryhill Funeral Home in Huntsville, with the funeral to follow. Burial will be at Huntsville Memory Gardens.