The 24-year-old Troup County teacher killed early Sunday morning in a three-car crash on I-185 in Columbus was a week away from getting married and on the way home from a bachelorette party at the time of her death, her father said Monday afternoon.
Hours before her she was killed, Meghann Smith posted on Facebook about her upcoming marriage to Kenneth William Belcher. Her father, Barry Smith, said Monday that the two had attended a wedding shower at Smith’s grandmother’s home in LaGrange on Saturday afternoon.
“Thank you everyone who came and celebrated with us today!” Meghann Smith wrote. “We are so blessed to have the best family. Thank you to my Gran-Nanna, Bo-Bo, and Teddi for putting the shower together. Still can’t believe we are almost there! 7 days!! #becomingabelcher.”
On Monday, her father was trying to come to terms with the tragic turn of events.
“At this point, I just don’t know what to say,” Barry Smith said.
Meghann Smith had been in Columbus to celebrate the upcoming wedding with girlfriends, her father said.
“She was not a big dancer or one to go out and party,” Barry Smith said. “But they said she let loose and was out on that dance floor having the time of her life.”
Smith died as the result of a three-vehicle crash at 1:22 a.m. in the northbound lane of of I-185 between the Airport Thruway exit and the J.R. Allen Parkway exit.
She was a passenger in the back seat of a northbound Kia Soul that was struck by a southbound Nissan Maxima that crossed the median. A Chevrolet was also struck.
Columbus police have determined that alcohol was a contributing factor in the crash, but have yet to file charges. Columbus Police Sgt. Fred Carnes confirmed on Monday that two of the three drivers involved were believed to be under the influence at the time of the wreck. That did not include the driver of the car in which Smith was a passenger, Carnes said.
Smith was pronounced dead at the scene by Muscogee County Chief Deputy Coroner Freeman Worley.
A native of Thomaston, Smith was a teacher at Ethel W. Kight Elementary School in LaGrange. She earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from LaGrange College. This was Smith’s second year at the school, where she ran a reading program for students K-5, said Troup County School System spokesman Yolanda Stephens.
“She absolutely loved being a teacher,” Barry Smith said.
Grief counselors were at the school on Monday, Stephens said.
“Our heart goes out to her family,” Stephens said. “This is a very sad situation.”
Ethel W. Kight Principal Candace McGhee issued the following statement: “She was a bright young lady who touched many students’ lives. She was a kind teacher who was always excited about building relationships with the students and her faculty mates. Meghann made a tremendous impact on those who were learning how to read or had difficulty grasping reading concepts. ... We are going to miss her and our prayers go out to her family during this time."
The wedding was scheduled this weekend at Oakhurst Farm, a West Point event venue. And like many brides, Smith was counting down to the days on her Facebook page.
On Thursday, Smith posted a selfie with one of her students.
“This little one has my heart!” Smith wrote. “Since last year, she has counted down with me to the wedding. Today we celebrated a little extra because we are in SINGLE DIGITS!!”