Michaella Lynch, 19, and Hannah Anderson, 20, both saw the blue flashing police lights at the intersection of South Main Street and South Avenue just after midnight on Saturday morning.
“I heard the crash happen,” said Anderson, who lives near the intersection.
They would learn later that police had gathered at the scene where their friend and neighbor since childhood, Maylea Beasley, 18, had been killed in a collision with a motorcycle.
“I was sober driving that night and I was about a block down and saw the cop cars,” Lynch said. “I just didn’t go down there ‘cause the road was blocked off, and I heard about it the next morning.”
Lynch and Anderson were part of a crowd of over 150 James Madison University students and other community members who gathered on the Quad Thursday evening for a candlelight vigil to remember Beasley.
Beasley, a JMU freshman from Virginia Beach, was struck by a motorcycle driven by Jeremy Baugher, 28, of Dayton, around 12:20 a.m. at the intersection of South Main Street and South Avenue.
Police said Baugher hit Beasley as she attempted to cross the road as he was going “grossly greater” than the speed limit. They both died at the scene.
In the cold Thursday air, the crowd stood around a heart-shaped formation of candles as some held each other’s hands and others hugged. Those who knew Beasley spoke to the crowd about her life and her personality.
JMU student Morgan Harwood read statements from Samantha Brophy, a fellow student, Beasley’s roommate and longtime friend.
“Watching your best friend die in front of you is something I wish on no one,” Harwood read from Brophy’s statement. “This doesn’t feel real.”
Beasley and Brophy were incredibly close and would do many things together, such as randomly break out into singing the national anthem, according to Brophy’s statement.
Lynch’s mother, Jennifer Lynch, 51, of Virginia Beach, also attended the vigil.
Beasley was a Girl Scout from second grade to when she went off to college and earned the highest of awards in the program, said Jennifer Lynch, who was also Beasley’s Girl Scout troop leader.
In addition, Beasley was an avid volleyball player and played for her high school, First Colonial in Virginia Beach, friends said.
“Even in the craziest of situations and circumstances, [Beasley] could always have a smile on her face,” Jennifer Lynch said.
The Beasley family told Harwood they are touched by the outpouring of support from the JMU community, Harwood told the crowd.