KNIGHTDALE, N.C. (WNCN) — The sound of sobs mingled with the sound of singing Monday night as family and friends gathered to remember Joe Murphy.
“Joe was the most perfect man in the world. He was the most amazing father, most amazing husband,” said his wife Jillian.
The Murphy family loved spending time together. Joe, Jillian, and their daughter Ireland, 10, all attended classes Team Raines Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Knightdale and from the start became part of the tight-knit martial arts school.
Joe and Ireland Murphy were headed to Jiu-Jitsu class Saturday morning when troopers say the driver of an oncoming pickup truck fell asleep at the wheel on Bethlehem Road near Knightdale.
Joe Murphy, 33, of Clayton, tried to swerve out of the way, but couldn’t avoid the impact. He died, but by swerving the car, his wife says he protected his daughter.
“He saved my baby,” Jillian Murphy said.
Now, mother and daughter are trying to find their way without Joe.
“I’m still in disbelief,” said Murphy. “It’s a nightmare I want to wake up from but I know I’m not going to be able to.”
They have plenty of people helping them through it, people who share their pain.
“It hit so close to home,” said Kelly Raines, owner of Team Raines Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
This isn’t the first time the school has been filled with tears and memories.
Raines’ husband and co-owner of the jui-jitsu school, Dan Raines, was killed in a motorcycle crash last April.
Kelly Raines says the support of everyone at the school helped her through her grief.
“It’s the only way we can continue and survive. Joe and Jillian stepped up quite a bit after Dan’s passing and we are hoping to be there for them as well,” said Raines.
Friends who have become family cheered through their tears as Jillian and Ireland accepted Joe’s Blue Belt.
They later laid wreaths at the site of the crash, less than a mile from the school.
Troopers tell us Jose Luis Hernandez, of Knightdale, is charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle in the crash.
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