Ashley Weikel, 26, and Bryan Weikel, 27, were among the 11 victims in the skydiving plane that crashed and exploded shortly after take-off on Oahu’s North Shore. The crash killed everyone on board.
The Weikel family told CBS4 the couple went to Hawaii to celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary.
“They wanted to go so bad,” said Bryan’s mother Kathy Weikel-Gerk. “I begged him to not go skydiving. I begged him not to go.”
Bryan’s bother Kenneth Reed told CBS4 he texted his brother numerous times following the scheduled jump time for an update about the couple’s safety, but when he didn’t hear back after 15 hours, Reed said he knew something was wrong. He said he went online and searched for “skydiving in Hawaii.”
“The first thing that popped up was the headline that a plane had crashed. I just knew right then,” Reed said. “It is hard to stand back up from something like that.”
— Hawaii News Now (@HawaiiNewsNow) June 22, 2019
The Weikel family members were confident that it was the couple’s plane even before they were notified by the Hawaiian authorities, reported Colorado Springs Gazette.
Ashley had posted social media pictures of them boarding the plane with the caption, “Getting ready to go skydiving,” Reed told the newspaper.
On Facebook, Reed said his brother was “the absolute best person in the world” and so was his wife, calling her his brother’s “identical soul mate.”
Back in Colorado Springs, the couple was mourned by friends and colleagues who were shocked by the tragic news, reported the Colorado Springs Gazette.
“I never met more responsible kids at that age,” the young couple’s friend Danna Wright told the paper as she held back tears. “Ashley had such a hard life growing up, and she made something for herself by working for everything she had. It breaks my heart.”
“They weren’t your typical people,” Wright said. “Their cars were paid off, and they scrimped to build that house.”
Reed told the Gazette that the couple had dated since they were teenagers and that they had sacrificed a lot in order achieve their life goals, one of which was to buy their own house.
“For over a year, they lived on ramen and beans to save every nickel to buy that house,” Reed, who officiated the couple’s wedding, said.
“They were the true spirit of the American dream,” he said. “They didn’t have great opportunity, but they made their own opportunity.”