Loved ones adjust to ‘new normal’ after death of mother and friend

“We’re coping okay. Just trying to adjust to the new normal.”

That’s how Nicole McClellan describes life for her and her siblings after losing their mom last week in a pedestrian accident in Cornelia.

37-year-old Crystal Thomas was struck and killed by a pickup truck as she walked on the Level Grove exit ramp. She was on her way home to Alto after finishing her shift at Wendy’s when she was killed.

“My mom was a very big people person,” says McClellan. “She was full of life and family.”

Now, that family and the others who knew and loved Crystal are wading through their grief. They held a memorial service for her on Sunday.

“It was very hard, but seeing everyone who came out was great,” says McClellan.

Last phone call

According to the Georgia State Patrol, Thomas was walking south on the northbound exit ramp shortly after 6 p.m. on September 13 when the truck hit her. State troopers did not charge the driver.

Ashley Sutton was Thomas’ next-door neighbor and friend. She spoke with Thomas minutes before the accident.

“I talked to Crystal at 5:56 p.m. [on September 14]. She said she was walking from Wendy’s and needed a ride [because] it was raining. I told her to wait at the store right there, and she said, ‘Okay.'”

Thomas’ boyfriend was visiting Sutton’s husband when she called, so the two men went to pick her up. On their way to the restaurant, they passed by someone on the side of the road administering CPR. They drove on to Wendy’s to find Crystal, unaware it was her they had just passed.

When they couldn’t find Crystal at the restaurant, they backtracked to where the police were on the exit ramp.

“I think her boyfriend talked to the cops for about 35 to 40 minutes,” Sutton says. “He walked back up and said that it was Crystal, that she had got hit by a car.”

Later that evening, a friend broke the news to Sutton that Crystal had died.

“It was just unreal. I cried and was just really heartbroken that she’s gone,” Sutton says. “Crystal was the life of the party, always making jokes and just an all-around happy person. She was a very caring and compassionate person. I couldn’t ask for a better friend.”

“She will be deeply missed.”

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