Sophia was up past her bedtime, but she begged her dad to let her ride along with him anyway. He was leaving their Bluffton home just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday to pick up a friend who needed a ride home from work.
Jonathan Friday, 29, and Sophia, 4, had traveled less than a mile when a 2003 Subaru driving west in the eastbound lane on S.C. 170 near the intersection of Bluffton Parkway struck their vehicle head-on.
Beaufort residents Elise and Sean Blackwell pulled up behind the wreck and rushed to Friday's 2013 Hyundai that was flipped on its side.
Another passer-by got Sophia out of her car seat, and Sean Blackwell, a former Marine, crawled to Friday in the driver's seat.
"Where is my daughter?" Friday asked Blackwell.
Blackwell told him Sophia was fine, and that she was with paramedics.
As he waited for the fire department to arrive, Blackwell checked Friday's pulse and his breathing, which was getting weaker and more shallow. He asked him what hurt, but Friday didn't complain of any pain.
Minutes later, the Bluffton Fire Department arrived and began cutting the car apart.
Paramedics asked Blackwell if the man was responding. By then, he wasn't.
"By the time they got the vehicle open, he had passed away," Blackwell said.
Jonathan Friday's life changed March 25, 2010, the day his daughter was born.
Friday and his daughter's mother divorced when Sophia was 7 months old. She has since lived with her father full time, according to Friday's mother, Karen Friday.
Friday relished playing Mr. Mom, according to his sister, 24-year-old Jessica Redwine of Atlanta. He fixed Sophia's hair in the morning, tying it in her favorite blue bow and making sure her outfits matched.
"I was even impressed by his outfit choices," Redwine said Monday.
Friday grew up in Clyo, Ga., a small town in Effingham County with a population of just over 2,000. After graduating from Effingham High School in 2003, he completed a five-year apprenticeship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Savannah.
He was a journeyman electrician and between jobs when he died, his mother said. He was scheduled to report back to work for his next contracted position through IBEW on Monday.
Friday and his family, including his parents and grandparents, moved to Bluffton in May to give Sophia better access to preschools, neighbors to play with and a sidewalk to ride her bike on.
Most days after work, Friday and Sophia would head straight to the pool, Sophia's favorite place to play. They spent many weekends on the beach together, building sand castles and jumping waves in the ocean.
"She was a little spoiled," Karen Friday said. "John just loved her to no end."
Jonathan Friday was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, and his body was taken to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston for an autopsy. Results weren't made public because they had not been released to the family, Beaufort County Deputy Coroner David Ott said late Monday.
Sophia and the driver of the Subaru, 62-year-old Denise Treier, were taken to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah.
Treier remains in the hospital, but her condition is unknown, S.C. Highway Patrol spokeswoman Hannah Wimberly said Monday.
No charges have been filed, Wimberly said, adding that a person cannot be charged until he or she is released from the hospital.
Sophia was released from the hospital Sunday morning and is recovering from minor scrapes and bruises. She has an abrasion on her shoulder where her seat belt cut into her skin. She won't let anyone take off the bandages because she's afraid it will hurt.
Karen Friday said the family is making arrangements for Sophia's care. She is now in the care of Jonathan's parents, Karen and David Friday.
Some neighbors, many of them strangers, have volunteered to bring meals to the family over the next couple of weeks. Others have offered to set up play dates for Sophia, and even to set up a scholarship fund for her.
"The way people have come to us, wanting to make sure Sophia has everything she needs ... I know God and John are directing things up there right now," Karen Friday said.
Burial and funeral arrangements are incomplete. When Jonathan was a kid, he said he would like to be cremated and have his ashes spread over the Savannah River, where he spent a lot of time fishing. And if that's the case, Karen Friday said they'll keep the ashes and let Sophia decide what to do with them when she's older.
"I think she's too young to really understand what's going on," Karen Friday said. "And it won't be until she's older that she'll miss him a lot."
Karen Friday knows what her granddaughter is going through; her own father passed away when she was 5.
"I know the hole she's going to have," Karen Friday said. "But I won't ever let her forget him. Never. I'll make sure she knows how good he was to her. I'll make sure she knows how much her father loved her."
Follow reporter Laura Oberle at twitter.com/IPBG_Laura.
- Father of 2-year-old killed in SC 170 crash, August 17, 2014