MASON COUNTY -- A Western Washington couple is among the dozen killed in a tour bus crash in Mexico.
Family members say Andy and Jody Fritz were soulmates with a charming life.
Both 51 years old, they had recently moved from Olympia to a Hood Canal home, where they planned to retire one day.
“It was their dream home, it was a beautiful home,” Jody Fritz’s brother, Kern Dolby, said.
It was an exciting chapter of their lives ripped away while the couple was on vacation in Mexico.
“I was in denial. There are 31 people on the bus, there were a few deaths. There is no way my sister could be one of them or Andy,” Dolby said.
Jody and Andy were among the 12 people killed when a speeding tour bus lost control on the way to Mayan ruins.
“Realization sets in and I have moments I am really sad,” Dolby said.
That’s why Dolby is trying to fixate on the memories they made when Jody was alive.
“She had this loud gregarious laugh, amazing laugh. When she would laugh, it would make everyone laugh,” Dolby said.
And that same laugh would echo through the halls of Belfair's Sand Hill Elementary School, where Jody was recently hired as the assistant principal.
“She just loved kids, it was clear to everybody,” Principal Jason Swaser said.
Those kids loved her back, writing affectionate cards about Jody after learning of her death.
“Thank you for helping me, thank you for being there for me, all those things that kids need from an adult,” Swaser said.
Andy was also an educator, teaching environmental science at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood for 19 years. One student called Andy the best teacher they’ve ever had. Family members say outside of teaching, Andy’s passion was running.
“I used to joke and say, why don’t you just drive?" Dolby said of Andy.
Family members say Andy had done more than 100 marathons all over the country and documented it in a personal blog.
People who knew Andy and Jody say they were a well-rounded couple who, most of all, loved their two sons.
“I think it’s going to strengthen my family’s bond. I think when you lose somebody, you realize what you have,” Dolby said.
That’s why Dolby says never wait to tell someone you love how you feel.