A 21-year-old woman from Forest Lake, Minnesota was killed at a highway rest area in Mississippi Tuesday when a tire came loose from a passing tractor-trailer and struck her.
Margaret “Meg” Maurer, a senior at Tulane University in New Orleans, and two fellow students were on their way to Georgia for a spring break hiking trip. They had stopped at a rest area off Interstate 10 near Gauthier.
According to police, a pair of tires somehow became unbolted from a semi on the highway. One of the tires bounced through the median and across multiple lanes of the interstate, traveling nearly 850 feet before striking and killing Maurer as she walked back to the car with her friends.
Maurer’s mother, Tracy Nelson Maurer, described the incident that took her daughter’s life as “completely random.”
“Margaret Kathleen Nelson Maurer was an extraordinary young woman and she brought a lot of joy to a lot of people through a lot of different ways,” Tracy said.
Meg was a senior at Tulane University in New Orleans, where she was majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, the school confirmed.
The school described Meg as an “extraordinarily gifted student” and a “leader among her peers.” After graduation in May, she planned to pursue a career in scientific illustration. The university is hoping to host an exhibition of her illustrations in the near future.
At Forest Lake High School, where Meg graduated in 2015, there was grief and bewilderment. Teachers recalled Meg as a bright light who elevated her class with work worthy of a Ph.D.
“She was an absolutely fabulous student,” said Megan Espe-Och, one of Meg’s high school teachers. “She was intellectually curious and compassionate. She was the type of student who was intent on making the world a better place."
There will be memorial services for Meg in both New Orleans and Forest Lake, according to a school statement.
The family has started a GoFundMe, if you wish to contribute.