Family, friends mourn death of 21-year-old killed in early morning wreck

Family, friends mourn death of 21-year-old killed in early morning wreck (Photo courtesy of Toni Carter)

PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. (KATV) -- A family is mourning the tragic death of their loved one after an early morning crash on Interstate 40.

21-year-old Briana Carter, otherwise known as Hope by her loved ones, was killed in the wreck.

Her mother Toni Carter describes her daughter as never knowing a stranger, and always with a smile on her face that would light up a room.

Video captures a heartbreaking scene just before sunrise Sunday morning.

Arkansas State Police confirms Carter drove up an exit ramp near Maumelle on the interstate the wrong direction, which caused her to drive west in the eastbound lanes.

Police say that's when she struck a MEMS ambulance head-on near mile marker 141.

Carter was pronounced dead on the scene

"Our thoughts and prayers are with that family of the young woman who lost her life," MEMS executive director Jon Swanson said.

Swanson says the ambulance was not patient loaded, but the two medics inside were injured and taken to a hospital for treatment.

Both are expected to recover.

"Everyone is very concerned about the welfare of our MEMS family," Swanson said. "I feel fortunate as serious as the accident was, a full recovery is expected."

Swanson says medics face risks every day on the job, but it's a small price to pay when it comes to helping others.

"When it's one of our own, it puts a whole new level of psychological connection to it, and it affects us deeply," he said.

The wreck shut down a section of I-40 east near mile marker for several hours.

Brittney Russell, a close friend of Hope Carter's, reached out to KATV with this statement:

Hope was a beautiful, kind person inside and out that cared so much for the people around her. She was smart, funny and I loved every second I spent with her. The world will definitely be a darker place without her in it. As heartbroken as I am, I can't even imagine how her family must be feeling.

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