STILLWATER, Minn. (KMSP) - As Dan Challeen looks at pictures of his 24-year-old daughter, Marina, he remembers all the happy times he had with her.
"She would be the life of the party and things would start to cheer up,” said Dan. “I'll miss that every day."
Marina was coming back from a call while working as a paramedic for Health East when her partner collided with a semi-truck on Interstate 694 in Brooklyn Center last month. Marina died in the crash. She had been a paramedic for just over a year.
A selfie taken just hours before she died captured her beautiful smile and bright personality.
Her older sister, Miranda Challeen, says she loved helping others often in their most frightening moments.
"There's no knowing how many lives that she saved,” said Miranda. “There's no knowing how many injuries may have gotten worse without her being there to transport people quickly."
Miranda says the family was especially touched with the outpouring of support from the EMT community as well as motorists who pulled over on the day of Marina's funeral to salute her. A folded American flag will forever remind them of her selfless spirit.
"That's why you're called to public service and she was called whole heartedly," said Miranda.
Marina had a contagious smile and instantly became friends with everyone she met. Her step-mother, Linda Challeen, says she always looked for the good in people.
"She had an incredible ability to see people for who they are, especially those who might otherwise be invisible," said Linda.
Marina eventually wanted to be a doctor. She loved to cook, dress up as her favorite superheroes and just live in the moment.
An eternal flame was given to the Challeen family as a way to keep Marina's memory alive, but sometimes the silence without her laughter is just deafening for her family.
"There are so many echoes here now and I feel an emptiness without her here," said Dan.
The family says they are still waiting to hear more details surrounding the investigation of the crash. They have not been in touch with Marina's partner who was driving the ambulance that night.