A young mother pregnant with twins saw her babies born moments before she died from injuries suffered in a vehicle crash.
Ashton Gailann Hughes, 19, of Drayton crashed her van into the back of a stopped SUV just after leaving a prenatal doctor’s appointment at Mary Black Memorial Hospital on Skylyn Drive on Tuesday afternoon.
At 29 weeks pregnant, she was rushed to Spartanburg Medical Center after the crash and went through an emergency cesarean-section surgery to deliver her twins. Doctors later told the family Hughes suffered internal bleeding in her abdomen, but was able to see her twins born before dying, said Eric Hughes, the 19-year-old’s father.
“It just hurts my heart so bad,” he said. “I wish that I could take her place any day.”
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The fraternal twins are now in Spartanburg Medical Center’s NICU unit in critical condition, said hospital spokeswoman Jessica Pickens.
Ashton Gailann Jennings, a girl named for her mother, weighed 2 pounds 12 ounces at birth, while Brantley Wayne Jennings, a boy, was 3 pounds 2 ounces.The twins are expected to receive intensive care for the next seven or eight weeks, but their grandfather said they will likely survive.
“That’s the best part about this. I’m thankful for them being here, but totally saddened by her being gone,” Eric Hughes said. “The only thing I know we can do is pray and hope for the best.”
The Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office and S.C. Highway Patrol are still investigating the crash to determine what happened.Ashton Hughes’ 11-month-old daughter, Dixie Faith Jennings, was in the backseat at the time of the crash, but she was not injured except for a scrape to her shoulder.
Eric Hughes said the family was told the 19-year-old was coherent after the crash other than feeling pain from the steering wheel, airbag or seat belt. He suspected that something must have just distracted her before she drove into the back of the SUV. The driver of the SUV was not injured, according to the highway patrol.
Friends of Ashton Hughes recalled her smile and love for her children as captivating.
Former co-worker DeShannon Whiteside described the young mother as “one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.”
Whiteside had worked with Hughes at a Chick-fil-A in Duncan, but Hughes recently left to focus on parenting, her father said.
“She was always patient with me, and she always smiled when she helped me,” Whiteside said. “I remember when Ashton told us she was pregnant and how happy she was. She loved kids, and she was so happy to have a bigger family.”
Eric Hughes added that his daughter’s smile was unforgettable, and she loved wearing camouflage. The casket selected for her funeral features camouflage liners, he said.
Apart from funeral arrangements, making sure the children are cared for is the priority.
“The grandbabies are our No. 1 key, to make sure they pull through and they get to know how their momma was when she was hereto let them know how great of a woman she was,” Eric Hughes said in tears during a Wednesday interview. “She was just something else.”