Friend of Texas crash victim: ‘She was a beautiful, beautiful soul’

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HOBBS, N.M. — Taylor Wyly knew there was something special about Karisa Raines the minute she stepped onto the University of the Southwest’s campus. Wyly pushed for her recruitment to the women’s golf team.

"I didn’t know that I was bringing along my best friend,” Wyly said.

Taylor was the graduate assistant coach of the golf team, so she could work on campus while she got her master’s degree.

The two girls quickly became inseparable. Taylor nicknamed Raines “little red.”

"I became little red’s mom,” said Wyly. "She just touches everyone that she’s around and she was just a beautiful, beautiful person. Really, I don’t know anyone like her."

This week’s news about Raines and her five other teammates’ and coach’s tragic deaths on a West Texas highway seemed impossible.

"I was just like no way, you know, no way, this is not true, this is not real, I couldn’t believe it,” said Wyly.

Wyly is now cherishing the countless memories, like Karisa standing by her side at her wedding last July, as Karisa’s dad married her and her husband. Or just last month, when Karisa came to Albuquerque to celebrate her 21st birthday.

“Genuine and so unique and not afraid to be herself whatsoever,” described Wyly. "Very beautiful soul. Truly just an amazing heart, an amazing love for everything, and just a genuine person."

The outpouring of love and support from across the country this week doesn’t surprise Wyly.

"I found myself today just talking to her in my car and crying,” she said. “But I know she’s there, I know she’s with me, I just know it, she will watch over me forever."

A donation site has been created in support of the victims and their families.