SEATTLE - It was supposed to be a day of rock hunting for Shannon Creel, her partner Britt, and another friend near Denny Creek and the Franklin Falls area. Instead, things took a tragic turn after the group got separated from one another in the woods. Her family and friends say just before 8:00 pm, Shannon was struck and killed by a driver on I-90 near Exit 47 while trying to find her way back to a trailhead.
"The goal is to not live forever, but to create something that will," said Shannon Creel in an old cell phone video. Her friends spent the day Friday sharing stories, watching videos and reminiscing about the times they shared together.
"Look where my baby done lug me this time," said Shannon in another video, shot on her cell phone from the Oregon Coast.
"She meant the world to me and everyone that knew her," said Kayla Berrios, Shannon's long-time friend. Kayla said she met Shannon when she had first moved to Washington. "I moved up here from Memphis when I was 12, and she was the first friend that I met," Kayla said.
"My life would be different if I never met Shannon, she’s just been a huge impact on the person I am today," said Catt "Kino" Aquino, Shannon's friend. "Just her spirit her energy. She helped me find me."
"I’m grateful for the life that she had while she was here, she was such a spirit a shining star and so many people loved her," said Rhonda Dixon, Shannon's Mom.
Rhonda said her daughter was special and full of charm.
"I would tell her, ‘You can charm the sugar out of a gingerbread and never break the crust’," she said. "She had the spirit. Anyone who met her, they liked her. She was very personable, and she was a people-person."
Rhonda said the 34-year-old loved to hike and go crystal-digging, often bringing her treasures home.
"She would come back, and she’d bring me crystals, ‘Mom this crystal is for this, this crystal is for that’, and I always kept the crystals she gave me," said Rhonda. "She loved crystals. As you know, crystals have a healing property in them. She was always going up crystal digging. I think this was going to be their last trip of the year."
Rhonda said Shannon had talked to her twice on September 21st. The first time, Shannon told her she was heading out on a hike to one of her favorite places in the Franklin Falls area to look for rocks and crystals before the weather turned. The second time she called her mom was at dusk.
"She was like, ‘Mom I’m lost. I can’t find my partner’, and I was like, ‘What would you like me to do? Would you like to call your partner?’ Rhonda tried to reach her, but friends say Britt was also in an area without service and off-trail herself.
Rhonda said that Shannon told her where she was.
"She saidX, ‘I’m off Exit 47, up something, something road’. So, she did tell me exactly where she was," said Rhonda.
The two had that conversation about 20 minutes before the fatal crash.
"I got a chance to talk to her a few minutes before it happened, and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for the conversation we had earlier in the day, and at the end of every conversation, as we always do, she said ‘Mom I love you’ and I said ‘I love you too’," said Rhonda.
Friends say Shannon was a big advocate for the LGBTQ community and loved her fiance' Britt. They say she was also the life of the party and the "glue" that held everyone together.
"When I first went to Renton High, she introduced me to everybody that I know," said Kino.
"She saw the beauty in everybody, and she wasn’t afraid to tell you what she thought about you was beautiful," said Cassandra "Cabang", Shannon’s friend.
"The most empathetic beautiful being I’ve ever met," said Gabe Maddox, Shannon's friend. "Just cared so much about everyone else, and not about herself."
"She will always be part of me and I don’t know how I will be without her," said Kayla Berrios, Shannon's friend.
"I’m just grateful I got to be her mom," said Rhonda.
Shannon's friends have set up an online memorial fundraiser.
"The Go Fund me would help Britt, Rhonda and the family," said Cassandra "Cabang", Shannon's friend.
Loved ones also wanted to thank the driver who stopped to call for help.
"We wanted to thank them for staying with her and not just hitting and run," said Kino.
"I’d like to tell them thank you for staying with my baby ….Thank you for not leaving my daughter in the road to die alone," said Rhonda.
Rhonda says they'll be planning a memorial for Shannon in the coming weeks.