Emily Clark wasn’t just a pretty face. She was genuine and happy, with a love of family and friends as big her faith in God, her boyfriend and Georgia Southern classmate said Thursday.
“She was beautiful in every single way,” Neal Hollis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Her smile was contagious to anyone who saw it. She was perfect to me.”
Clark dreamed of becoming a nurse, following in the footsteps of a cherished aunt. But when Hollis told her goodnight Tuesday night, he said something seemed different than usual, but he couldn’t pinpoint it. As he usually did, he told his girlfriend to let him know when she got to Savannah the following morning for her clinical.
“I love you, Emily,” Hollis said he told her. “Please let me know when you get there, even if you forget, just let me know you made it.”
But Hollis never heard from Clark. Instead, Wednesday morning, he heard about a horrific crash on I-16, just outside of Savannah. Then, he got a call from Clark’s mother confirming the worst. Clark, 20, was one of five nursing students killed in a multi-vehicle crash shortly before 6 a.m.
“The way she told me, it’s something I’ll never forget,” Hollis said of the call from Clark’s mother.
Back in Cobb County, Clark’s parents had been informed of the tragic news. Word spread quickly through the community at Harrison High School, where Clark graduated and where her younger sister is a freshman.
Late Wednesday, Hollis said he grieved along with his own family, who had grown to love Clark, assuming the two were destined to be together.
“She was the one I was going to marry,” Hollis said.
From the time Hollis met Clark in October 2013, he never forgot about her, but he didn’t see her for several months. Then, on Valentine’s Day 2014, the two connected over Snapchat, Hollis said. Later that night, they had an informal date, eating popcorn and watching “Frozen.”
There was plenty of laughter and talking that night. But when Clark said she loved the movie “Happy Gilmore,” Hollis was sure the first date wouldn’t be the last.
“This girl is the one,” he remembers thinking.
While he says he’s grateful for his time with Clark, he selfishly can’t yet imagine life without her.