HENDERSON, Nev. -- Family and friends are mourning the death of an assistant volleyball coach after a brutal crash.
The accident happened Thursday when three vehicles wrecked on southbound U.S. 95 near Horizon Drive. Family members say a pickup truck, driven by 23-year-old Erika Funtila, hit a tow truck parked on the side of the freeway. Funtila died at the crash site. It is unknown why she ran into the tow truck.
Erika's brother Alexis Funtila was driving by the crash site a little more than a hour after it happened. He did not know his sister was involved.
"It was just a phenomenal wreck," Funtila said. "It was just something I've never seen before."
Funtila didn't give it more than a passing thought until someone called him, asking the single question that would change his life.
"'Hey, you know, did you see that truck?'" Funtila said the caller asked him. "I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'That kind of looks like Erika's truck.' That's when I started thinking that's a little too close to home."
Funtila began frantically searching nearby hospitals. Eventually, he found a firefighter paramedic who responded to the crash scene. Funtila said that first responder told him the victim was a woman who looked a lot like Funtila. He said he knew at that moment his sister was gone.
"I didn't break down," Funtila said. "At that point, I think I went somewhere else."
Friends describe Erika Funtila as joyful.
"The goofiest, happiest person I've ever met," said Michelle Kothe, Erika's best friend.
Erika Funtila graduated Foothill High School and went on to become assistant volleyball coach at Southeast Career and Technical Academy. She led the varsity boys to a state championship a few weeks ago.
"She taught them how to play like herself and that's just with passion," her brother said.
Erika Funtila may not have known how much she meant to the lives she touched. "When your friends turn into your family, and your best friend turns into your sister, you realize how precious life is," Kothe said.
Loved ones say her legacy will be leading a life of hard work, joy and, of course, a big smile.
A viewing is being held for Erika Funtila Friday, June 21 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Palm Mortuary, 800 S. Boulder Highway.
Her funeral is scheduled for Saturday, June 22 at 2 p.m. at St. Peter's Catholic Church.
More information on Erika's Services: http://www.gofundme.com/39sw3k