59ºF

Fernandina Beach woman dies in crash 2 months after her wedding

Husband describes meeting Rachel Claasen at Bible study as love at 1st sight

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two months after a Fernandina Beach woman's wedding, her family is planning her funeral.

Rachel Claasen, 30, was killed Tuesday morning when her car hit a dump truck on Cecil Commerce Center Parkway near Normandy Boulevard while driving to work.

The Florida Highway Patrol said Rachel was heading south on the road about 6:30 a.m. when her Honda Fit crossed the double yellow line into the northbound lane and collided head-on with a dump truck. She died at the scene. 

RELATED: Woman, 32, killed in crash on Cecil Commerce Center Parkway

Troopers continue to investigate the crash that left the dump truck's driver with minor injuries. The stretch of road where it happened is under construction, bumpy and only one lane in each direction.

Neil Claasen, her husband, told News4Jax on Wednesday about when he met the love of his life a year ago at a Bible study at their pastor's house. He said it was love at first sight.

The couple tied the knot in February, moved in together and began their lives as one before it was time to say goodbye.

Rachel, a graduate of the University of North Florida, worked as a logistics coordinator at a company named Allyn, but her real calling was at the church.

"If she wasn't working to pay her bills, she was working for Christ at places like UNF and leading Bible studies with her husband," said William Browne, the Claasen's neighbor. 

Rachel was an AwakenChurch leader and devoted her life serving others with youth groups, college ministries and mission trips, loved one said.

Pastor Andrew Roberts said he and Rachel were close friends for more than a decade. 

"Jesus asked a question to a young woman in scripture and He says, that 'The one who believes in Me will never die, ever. Do you believe this?' And the woman said, ‘yes.’ And I believe that Rachel believed that with her whole heart, that she believed in Jesus and she would never die. ever and as a result she poured her life out to the things that Jesus did as well," Roberts said. 

Loved ones described Rachel as a gentle, noble soul, generous and always on time. She loved old VHS movies, high heels and gummy worms. But more than anything, she loved spending time with her husband.

"Just please pray for Neil and always tell your loved ones every time you leave (that you love them) and don’t take any day for granted. You never know. You walk out the door and that could be it," Browne said. 

Neil is from South Africa, and his family had just flown over for their wedding two months ago. Now, they're making there way back here for her funeral. 

A fund has been set up on AwakenChurch's website that will give to causes Rachel was passionate about. To donate, click here and then designate a gift to "Rachel Fund."