A day of joy quickly turned to tragedy for the parents of Megan Garven. The couple had just celebrated their 26th Wedding Anniversary when they heard the news. Megan, their first born and only daughter, was dead.
The 24-year-old Philadelphia woman, who taught at a Christian school in the Dominican Republic, was killed in a car accident that also injured a fellow teacher and a student.
Police say Garven died after the vehicle in which she was traveling struck another in the city of Santiago. Garven had been teaching third grade at Santiago Christian School.
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Mike Lukens, Garven's Uncle, says the woman's parents learned of her death around 1 a.m.
"You dread the call early in the morning," said Lukens. "You hope it never comes but sometimes it does. You're never prepared for it. I think you expect an older person to die. But you don't expect someone who's 24 to be gone. So that makes it really hard."
Garven taught at the school starting in 2009 as a student teacher and then joined the faculty full-time in 2011 after attending Cairn University located in Langhorne, Pa. Her family says she loved teaching the kids about God.
"She loved Jesus," said Lukens. "That's why she was there. She gave up working here in the states and probably making a whole lot more money to go live there and give her life to those kids."
Prior to graduating, Garven taught in Philadelphia.
Garven, the oldest of four children and the only daughter, had traveled extensively with her family. According to the University, she had participated in many religious missions to countries including Peru, Mexico, Brazil and also throughout the United States. On her personal web page, Megan credited her dad, a pastor, and her mom, a teacher, as the reason why she was in the Dominican Republic and giving to the community.
"Megan just lit up their lives with her smile and with her life," said Lukens. "She was just a joy to be with."
Injured were a fellow teacher, identified as Audrey Hickman of Chicago, and a student whose name was not released. The driver of the other vehicle in the accident late Tuesday was also injured.
The school canceled classes Wednesday.
Despite their loss, Garven's family says their faith will help them heal.
"That is what will carry us through," said Lukens. "Knowing that God is here and He comforts us and He gives us strength to press on. We know we will see her again someday."
Garven's family will fly to the Dominican Republic Thursday morning and hold a service at her school. They will then have her body flown back to the Philadelphia area where she will be laid to rest.