LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It was a mistake that happened in a split second, with repercussions that will last a lifetime. Friends and family of Shannon Cox and Sheila Serie are dealing with a huge loss. Both women were heading home after a long day, one fighting for the lives of others, and one fighting for her own life. Friends of one of the families told 7 News, Roy Serie, and his wife Sheila were driving home after a hard day.
"They had been traveling there and back, from Houston for weeks, to get chemo treatments for his wife, for breast cancer. She had not been doing too good," said Jacob Fontenot.
Jacob said doctors believed Sheila did not have long, but they were trying to hold on long enough for mother and father to watch their daughter graduate from high school. Many from Ville Platte high school, where Roy coached football, believe the long drives, and high stress caused Roy Serie to fall asleep at the wheel, eventually causing an fatal accident.
"It was taking it's toll and everything. They were coming back from Houston, and his body just gave out," said a friend of the Serie family.
"Sheila was a real great person. You couldn't ask for a better sister-in-law."
Sheila Serie of Ville Platte died at age 45.
In the vehicle heading south, was passenger Beth Zilbert, and driver Shannon Cox. The accident sent Zilbert to the hospital, Shannon Cox died on impact.
"Sometimes you can't avoid things. It's tragic loss. It hasn't really hit me all the way," said Laura Cox.
Shannon's family said her and Beth were always fighting for the less fortunate, and that day they were on their way home from doing just that.
"She was a huge light for so many people. She was an advocate for the poor, the downtrodden, for the children, :"said Laura Cox.
Beth Zilbert, who is now recovering in the hospital, and Shannon Cox co-founded The Peoples Advocate to help raise awareness on domestic violence, animal cruelty, immigration issues, and environmental justice. They said Shannon Cox was truly an asset to the community.
"She was always the life of everything, life of the party, of any cause that needed to be helped," said Lorraine LeBlanc.