A teacher loved by students, a wife and a mother-to-be lost her life Tuesday night following a three-vehicle crash in Bluffton.
Jesse Floyd, 27, of Bluffton, succumbed to her injuries around 11 p.m. at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, where she was flown by helicopter. She was the passenger in a SUV driven by her husband that was one of two vehicles to strike a third vehicle that had stalled while turning from U.S. 278 onto Buck Island Road, according to the Beaufort County Coroner’s Office and the Bluffton Police Department.
She was 26 weeks pregnant with her first child, friend and colleague Noel Reasoner said Wednesday. The child did not survive.
“She was a wonderful person,” Reasoner said. “She came to our school from Georgetown, South Carolina, and she taught at our school for a year in second grade. ... She was probably the sweetest person I’ve ever met. Her students absolutely loved her.”
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Floyd and Reasoner taught together at Pritchardville Elementary for the 2015-16 year; Reasoner still works there as a literacy coach. Floyd taught second grade before moving on to Royal Live Oaks Academy in Jasper County, where she also worked as a literacy coach. She was hired at Hilton Head Island Elementary for the 2017-18 year to teach second grade, Beaufort County School District spokesman Jim Foster said.
In a letter to her new student families delivered the day of the wreck, Floyd said she and her husband, Ryan Floyd, have lived in Bluffton for three years.
“This will be my seventh year in education,” Floyd wrote. “... In my spare time, I enjoy shopping, going to the beach, reading a good book and spending time with my family. ... I truly look forward to spending the next year learning and growing with you all.”
Superintendent Jeff Moss released a statement on Wednesday describing Floyd as an exceptional educator.
“She was a terrific young teacher with a bright future,” Superintendent Jeff Moss said on Wednesday. “This is a great, great loss to her family and friends, and to the school district as well. Our prayers go out to everyone who loved her.”
Reasoner said Floyd decided to come back to the district after her husband got a job teaching science at Bluffton High School for the upcoming school year. The pair wanted to be in the same district, she said.
Ryan Floyd was driving the SUV involved in Tuesday’s collision and suffered head lacerations and a broken ankle, according to a police department news release late Wednesday afternoon. He was taken by ambulance to the Savannah hospital, according to police department report. Joy Nelson, spokesperson for the police department, said on Wednesday that Ryan Floyd was “okay,” but she did not know whether he had been released from the hospital.
A hospital spokesperson said there were no records of a Ryan Floyd as a patient on Wednesday.
The crash happened around 2:45 p.m. as the Floyds traveled eastbound on U.S. 278. Their SUV and a service van struck the left-turning vehicle that had stalled.
The driver of the stalled vehicle was treated at the scene. The driver of the service van was taken to Coastal Carolina Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, the report said.
The crash led to the closure of the eastbound U.S. 278 lanes at the intersection for several hours.
The Bluffton Police Collision Reconstruction Unit is working with evidence to determine the speed, point of impact and cause of the crash, according to the release.
Nelson said drivers should always “err on the side of caution” near the crossing. Although not the case in Tuesday’s wreck, she said most collisions in that location occur because turning drivers inaccurately gauge the speed and distance of oncoming drivers and turn without adequate time.
“Because there’s a curve, it’s hard to gauge how fast cars are going,” Nelson said. “It’s safer to wait a little longer, even if it angers a motorist behind you.”
Reporters Kelly Meyerhofer and Joan McDonough contributed to this story.