Lifelong friend of SPU student killed in crane disaster says the world lost an amazing person

SEATTLE -- Friends of Sarah Wong say she left a smile on the face of anyone she met, and whether you were her best friend or only knew her briefly, she made an impact on your life.

Saturday afternoon, a massive construction crane crashed into busy traffic on Mercer Street. The incident killed four people. One of the victims was Wong, a Seattle Pacific University freshman.

“I still can’t really believe it. When you see pictures of her, it’s like she’s still alive,” said Audrey Hong.

Hong says she found out late Saturday her classmate had been one of the victims in the crane tragedy. She says someone came into her room and mentioned a student had died. When she heard the name of the student, Hong says she couldn’t breathe.

“I knew that it would hurt me, but I think I surprised myself with just how much this is hurting me,” said Hong.

Audrey Hong and Sarah Wong were both freshmen at SPU, but their connection went back much further.

“I grew up with Sarah. We went to the same preschool together,” said Hong.

She says growing up, the two girls were best friends. But they went to different high schools, and Hong says she and Sarah drifted apart.

They got a second chance at friendship when they both went to the same college.

“Every time I’d see her, it was always like, a warm smile, like a nice little greeting. It was very comforting,” said Hong.

Hundreds of miles away from their families in California, Hong says having Sarah on campus was like a little piece of home.

“I feel a little bit lost, like it makes me want to go home even more. But I feel like when you go home, I really have to face it,” she said.

Hong says she has never lost anyone like this in her life.

She says she is struggling to find the way to cope with the loss of a friend.

However, she says knowing that Sarah impacted so many people is helping her find support during this difficult time.

“I just really hope she knew how many people she really touched. Because so many people cared about her,” said Hong.

School officials say they are planning to honor Sarah’s life Wednesday at the school.

Sarah's family released the following statement:

"We want to thank the communities of Seattle, Washington, and South Pasadena and San Marino, California, and beyond for the tremendous outpouring of love and support we have received in honor of our daughter, Sarah Pantip Wong. Known by many as Sarah and by her family and many others as Pantip, we acknowledge the impact she has had on the people God has placed in her life path. As we continue to celebrate her life and mourn our loss, we are comforted by our faith, the faith communities in the Seattle and the Los Angeles areas, and Sarah Pantip's wonderful community of friends. We understand your requests to learn more about our Pantip; however, we request privacy and are not providing interviews to the media at this time.”