Kimberly Yumlu, 45, was being kept alive by a ventilator early Wednesday morning so surgeons could harvest her organs later that day, her son-in-law, A.J. Roberts said.
“It’s going to be something that’s on our mind every year on Thanksgiving,” Roberts said. “All of this kind of feels surreal. We’re devastated. We’re taking this one day at a time.”
He said doctors told the family that despite Yumlu’s injuries, her lungs and kidneys were healthy enough to help four people.
“It’s a little bit of light in a dark situation,” Roberts said. “She’ll still be able to give to help people.”
Yumlu worked as a teaching assistant at Springfield Middle School in Williamsport and was the program director at the Boys and Girls Club there.
Her colleagues at the school said her death would leave an irreplaceable void.
“This is a tremendous loss,” Springfield Principal Jennifer Ruppenthal said. “She had such a passion for helping others. She was very dedicated.”
Ruppenthal said school officials were told in advance about Yumlu’s condition and prepared a statement to read to the students in their home-room classes Tuesday morning. She said Washington County Public Schools provided grief counselors Tuesday and Wednesday to help the students and teachers deal with the loss.
“She had a tremendous impact,” Ruppenthal said. “She was such a caring individual. She was a motherly type.”
Sixth-grade teacher Kelly Mowen said she met Yumlu 10 years ago when the two were assigned to the same classroom. She said they immediately formed a friendship that was highlighted by numerous conversations about their children.
“She idolized her girls,” Mowen said. “They meant everything to her.”
Yumlu brought her upbeat personality to the classroom and used it last year to reach a student she was assigned to help.
“She was wonderful with this child,” Mowen said. “She has touched so many over the years at this school.”
Mowen said the school’s seventh- and eighth-graders, with whom Yumlu most recently worked, were taking the news the hardest.
“They’re having a very difficult time today,” she said Tuesday. “Kim has made a lasting impression on everyone. Our hearts are broken.”
The accident that claimed Yumlu’s life occurred the evening of Nov. 12 in the northbound lanes of Interstate 81 near Martinsburg, W.Va.
When police arrived, a black Toyota sport utility vehicle was on its roof, with Kimberly Yumlu trapped inside and her husband, Christopher Yumlu, outside receiving medical attention, according to a news release from West Virginia State Police.
Troopers said Christopher Yumlu was driving the SUV when it was struck in the rear by a tractor-trailer at about 7:45 p.m. The collision caused him to lose control of the SUV, which struck a guardrail and rolled over.
Police said the tractor-trailer left the scene. Authorities were unable to determine its make, model, registration and company.
Christopher Yumlu, 47, and one of their daughters were taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg, where they were treated and released.
State police said Tuesday that they didn’t have an update on the accident, and the investigating trooper wouldn’t return to duty until after Thanksgiving.
Roberts said the Yumlu family has established a memorial fund to help pay for the funeral. People who wish to donate can make checks payable to The Kim Yumlu Memorial Fund. Checks can be sent to the Washington County Teachers Federal Credit Union at 16802 Virginia Ave., Williamsport, MD, 21795.