CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A Middleburg native was driving her SUV in Utah when the man who came to repossess it hit it with his tow truck, police said.
Ashleigh Best, 35, died in the crash.
Her friends in Clay County said they’re heartbroken.
Best went to high school in Middleburg, where she also met her husband. They had just moved to Utah a few months ago to be with family and make a fresh start.
Police said Kenneth Drew came to Best’s home in Utah Tuesday morning to take her SUV, and after an argument, she got in the vehicle and drove off.
That’s when Drew got in the tow truck and followed her.
Witnesses told police that Drew hit Best’s SUV with the tow truck, causing it to leave the road, cross a sidewalk and hit a tree.
He’s now facing manslaughter charges.
Family friends said the mother had a bright future, cut short.
“It’s just surreal. You don’t, I mean, to think that the repo man chased her,” family friend Todd Wheeler said. “It’s hard to believe someone would do that."
Wheeler had helped Best load the U-Haul as she, her husband and their three kids prepared for the next chapter of their lives -- a move from Florida to Utah to be closer to family.
“He loved her so much,” Wheeler said. “They were a great couple, got along. And they love their kids, always with their kids.”
Best wasn’t related to Vina Delcomyn, but they were like family. They were next-door neighbors.
Delcomyn said she would see Best out all the time with her 4-year-old and 8-year-old kids, and her 15-year-old niece, whom she had adopted as her own.
"She was just bubbly, always had a smile, always saying, ‘If you need anything, let me know,’” Delcomyn said. “Their children are the same age as two (of) my grandchildren. So it really hits home that this young mother won't be there and raise her children.”
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said Drew didn’t have the right to follow, hit or try to stop Best’s vehicle.
“This is a repo man. He’s not law enforcement. He’s not law enforcement in any way. So no, she does not have to stop. She can keep going and he just has to try and find the car as best he can,” Smith said.
It’s a hard thing to grasp for those who love this daughter, wife, mother and friend.
“I go to bed, I think about it. When I wake up, I think about it. It's just terrible,” Wheeler said.
The family set up a GoFundMe account for anyone who wishes to help them with Best's funeral expenses.