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After Deadly Accident, Family Raises Money, Hope

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- On the day in which we count down to a New Year, the clock froze for Ashlei Connollys family.

I think time just stopped there, said Mandi Smith, one of Ashleis in-laws. You never think for someone so young and full of life, it's gonna happen to them.

Just after 10am on December 31, the 24 year old pulled her car out on an intersection just south of Manchester - right into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

She didn't see the car because it was white and snowing, her sister in law Kelli Connoloy recalls. They say she was killed instantly.

Ashlei, who family members describe as awesome and the life of the party - would not live to see another year.

Throughout the tragedy, her family remained united in support.

Nobody should ever take on a burden like this be themselves or try to bear it all, in-law Andrew Smith said.

The emotional support is one thing, but financial support is another. With the cost of her unexpected funeral creeping higher and higher for her parents, Andrew Smith got an idea - crowd funding.

I've seen it before, where people raise money, and thought maybe this is something we can do, he said.

The goal started only at a couple thousand. More than $9,000 later, it did more than they could imagine. The page is pulling in donations from everywhere - from anonymous donors, to old friends.

People you went to college with 10 years ago, Kelli Connolly says.

They are gestures, hundreds of them, which opened eyes and renewed faith for a grieving family. For them, it proves that in an age of viruses and scams, some good can still come from the World Wide Web.

It's reassuring there are people that care, Andrew Smith said.

Their hearts have to be so big to give something like that, it's so amazing, Ashleis cousin Shanon Ascher said.

The family is still looking for donations to meet their $15,000 goal and pay for funeral costs. If you want to help, visit http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/in-loving-memory-of-ashlei-connolly/121729
 
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