Widower speaks on loss of wife to US 281 collision



The widower of a woman who died in a two vehicle wreck on US 281 on Friday morning described his beloved wife as a “good-hearted person.”

Texas DPS is still investigating the cause of the wreck that claimed the life of Carole Dee Lay, a 68-year-old woman of Marble Falls known to friends as “bright, interesting, funny and caring.”

Lay was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision at the intersection of US 281 and FM 1855 on Friday, July 8 at about 11:40 a.m.

Stephen Lay, her husband of 46 years, said Carole “usually had a smile on her face… She adored her grandchildren.”

Lay said his wife was on her way from their home on Farm to Market Road 1855 to the Burnet YMCA to exercise when the wreck occurred.

“I was caught in the traffic jam. I saw her car and I thought, maybe…. But then I pulled up to the house and saw the troopers and I knew,” he said.

Texas DPS Trooper Andrew Thomas said authorities aren't yet sure what caused the wreck.

“Witnesses said she came off FM 1855, stopped at the stop sign, and pulled right out in front of a the truck,” he said.

The pickup truck was a beige 1993 Chevy 2500 driven by Burnet resident David Flinn, 31.

“He was traveling (southbound) in the outside lane, heading to Walmart where he worked. He saw her and locked his brakes up,” Thomas said. “She stopped in the outside lane. He swerved to the left to try to miss her, but she started moving forward again.”

The Chevy struck Lay's black 2011 Ford Fiesta on the driver's side door, propelling the vehicle 200 feet south, where it came to rest facing west. The pickup spun and came to rest in the inside, southbound lane facing east.

Thomas said Lay was wearing her seatbelt, and Flinn, who had exited his vehicle before first responders arrived, reported to have been wearing his.

Burnet County Justice of the Peace Pct. 1 Roxanne Nelson pronounced her dead.

Thomas said authorities are awaiting the results of an autopsy, and added that Lay had a prescription for medication.

“We don't know if it was maybe a medical emergency,” he said regarding her death. “We know trauma had something to do with it.”

Flinn was taken by family members to Seton Highland Lakes Hospital in Burnet for examination, but reportedly suffered only minor injuries.

The collision caused a traffic delay in both southbound and northbound lanes of US 281 until about 1:30 p.m.

Lay said his wife had a number of chronic illnesses and was taking prescriptions for them.

“In recent years the medication worked very well,” he said. “This (her death) came as a surprise to all of us. In the last six months she had been so happy.”

Lay said his wife had strong faith and found it even more rejuvenated after coming back from a trip to the Holy Land with a group from St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Cypress Mills.

“At least we know she died happy and died as securely as she can,” he said.

Carole Lay spent much of her life teaching and was “personally invested in her students' success,” her husband said.

She taught English to native Alaskans through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and ran a bilingual program at the Fairbanks school district in Alaska. She and Stephen worked “in and out of Africa” for a time before moving to the Bahamas, where she taught English in the Royal Bahamian Prison. Afterwards she taught English as a second language in Thailand.

Many of the condolences left on Stephen and Carole's social media accounts since her death are from former students across the globe.

“It's amazing how many friends she has,” Lay said.

“My heart goes out to you,” said friend Donna Everage. “I know what an amazing mom she was.”

Another friend, Bonnie Nielson, called Carole “such a bright, interesting, funny and caring person.”

Lay's local memorial service will be at 2 p.m., Saturday, July 16 at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Cypress Mills. Father Tommie Bye will officiate.

A memorial service will be held in her hometown of Baytown at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 14 at Baytown Faith Presbyterian Church.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made under Carole's name to St. Luke's Episcopal Church Building Fund, a local library, or any organization protecting elephants.

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