PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Friends gathered to pray and remember a young woman who died after a freak accident on the Parkway West.

Katie Puwalowski, 19, had just picked up her boyfriend from Pittsburgh International Airport after he arrived home from a missions trip in China.

A 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee traveling west lost a rear tire, bounced over the barrier into her path near the Carnegie Exit. She died at the hospital from her injuries.

It was after 6 p.m. Monday when Marina Rutherford last saw her best friend. The two had just finished a meeting at their church.

“The last thing I remember her saying to me was that she never wants to let me go and she gave me the biggest, heartfelt hug I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Rutherford said.

Puwalowski was a sophomore at Saint Vincent College and a graduate of North Catholic High School. Her former classmates gathered Tuesday trying to make sense of the accident that claimed her life.

“This is baffling to me how that could happen to – how that just happened to her and then knowing her – it just adds a whole other element to it,” Jim Utz, a friend, said.

Puwalowski passed away after being taken off life support. Her father, brother and friends were by her side.

“You know, she’s in God’s arms right now,” Rutherford said. “I know that God carried her the whole way. She was the most devout Catholic I ever met. She was so into her faith – more than anybody.”

Services will be held for her at Hahn Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc. in Millvale.

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