BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) -- A woman who changed lives is how friends and family are remembering Penny Pigford, who was in a fatal car accident Friday night, which was also her birthday.
A pickup truck was traveling south on U.S. 17 near N.C. 904 when the driver swerved into the turn lane and hit Francis and Leroy Carlisle's van. Carlisle's van then flew across the highway and was hit by two other cars.RELATED: NC church remembers elderly couple killed in triple-fatal crash
Pigford, 59, was a passenger in one of those cars. Her husband, Ed, has been released from the hospital.
The Carlisles also died in the crash.
Pigford and her husband of Wilmington were driving home from Myrtle Beach, where they were shopping and celebrating Penny's birthday.
Pigford's friends said she would give anyone the shirt off of her back, and that she could light up a room.
"Penny was full of life. Penny was always happy. She was always involved in things. She never gave up," friend Kristi Farr said.
"I remember her saying to me more than once, 'if you pray for me, I'll pray for you.' What more could you ask for in a friend than they'll pray for you?" Chrissy Teal, another friend of Pigford's, said.
"When things were going kind of rough, and you might need a special friend, when everybody else was running away, she was running towards you," friend Connie Moscati said.
Farr texted Pigford Friday morning, wishing her friend a happy birthday.
"I was like, 'I hope you had a great birthday' and you know, 'Have a great day' and, of course, like she always would, she said, 'Thank you' and she would do little hearts (emojis)," Farr said.
"I said, 'I can't wait to hear all about it' and she said, 'I'll call you tomorrow' and I never...of course that night she was tragically killed."
Even though Pigford is no longer here, her friends said the impact she had on everyone still is.
"She knows that a change occurred because she was here and now because she is gone. Change happened in people's lives," Teal said.
Her friends said Pigford wouldn't want them to be sad about her death, but to celebrate the life she lived.
"I know Penny is happy. I can see her looking down right now and saying, 'Guys, I'm happy. I'm living. I'm in heaven. I'm with Jesus and I'm dancing with the angels,'" Farr said.
"She would want us to go on. That's just Penny. ... It's hard for us left behind, the grieving, but Penny is getting her reward in heaven."
Pigford's hairdresser, Noelle Knoblauch Snoots, said Pigford was more than a regular customer.
"Every time before she came in my shop she asked how I wanted my coffee. Never showed up empty-handed," Snoots said. "She loyally followed me to three salons. I was part of her family as she showed me proudly pics of (her family and) her new dream home she was building with her husband.
"(She was) so proud of her life and all of them in it. Always looking to uplift someone who was down. I truly will miss her and it will be hard not seeing her for her scheduled appointment next week."
Visitation for family and friends will be from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at Wilmington Funeral Chapel. A celebration of life ceremony for Pigford will be held at Wilmington Funeral Chapel at 11 a.m.
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