CHIPLEY —Jordan Rae Nedeau is being remembered by friends and family this week as a woman whose life mission was to help others.
The Chipley High School graduate died after a fellow Tallahassee Community College student drove into the Ochlockonee River, reportedly leaving the scene - and his passenger, 20-year-old Nedeau in his submerged 2001 Isuzu Rodeo.
The driver, Jeffrey Rushing, 20, has been arrested on charges of vehicular homicide but was released on bond Monday. Rushing is believed to have been intoxicated at the time of the incident.
While the investigation is still ongoing, Nedeau's family believes she died trying to ensure her classmate made it home safely.
"I was told the reason why she was in the car was to help someone back home who was intoxicated," said her father, John Nedeau. "That was so like her to try to help someone; she had a heart for helping people. Whatever transpired that night, there are still a lot of questions for which we don't have answers."
Nedeau, who graduated Summa Cum Laude from CHS in 2012, had hopes of becoming a math teacher and often combined her love for others with her natural knack for mathematics.
Nedeau's fellow 2012 CHS grad and recent college roommate, Shelby Joiner, says Nedeau spent many late nights helping her with higher maths.
"I had a hard time with trigonometry, and she would stay up to tutor me and make sure I understood the work," said Joiner. "But more than that, she was always there when I needed her. I could call at three in the morning if I needed to talk. She just really loved people and treated everyone equally without judging them. Her happiness just rubbed off on you, and you wanted to be a better person just because she was near you. She just loved."
Another close friend and classmate, Paige Harrell of Chipley, agrees.
"She came to everyone with a warm heart," said Harrell. "She called me Princess because I like to do pageants, and I called her Sunflower because she was so bright. She didn't care who you were or where she came from; she was going to be good to you."
John Nedeau says his daughter was simply someone who loved her friends and family.
"She really was close to her mom and looked at her as a role model," he said. "And she was very close to her younger brother (Josh) and sister (Jenna). When her brother was little, she would literally drag him around because she wanted to be close to him.
Josh Nedeau says not much has changed since they were children, that he still wanted to be close to his big sister.
"She was my best friend," he told The News.
Meanwhile, the family says they are touched by the outpouring of support they've received from Washington County.
"There's a lot of good people over there who have known us for a long time,' said John Nedeau. "They've been good to us."
Here's a timeline of events, according to LCSO:
Time frame not specified: Nedeau and Rushing patron a Tallahassee nightclub and then attended a gathering at a residence on Golden Park Lane.
Early hours: Rushing drives his SUV into the Ochlockonee River and flees the scene, with Nedeau still inside the vehicle.
9 a.m.: Rushing was found passed out near a Tallahassee business. A Leon County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) deputy, unaware of the events of the previous night, made contact with Rushing and drove him to 2513 Golden Park Lane, where he and Nedeau had been the night before.
4:40 p.m.: Rushing appeared at LCSO and told deputies and stated he and Nedeau had been with friends the previous evening at a local nightclub, and then later at the Golden Park Lane residence. Rushing told deputies he became intoxicated at that residence and left, with Nedeau as a passenger.
1:20 a.m.: Investigators recovered Rushing's SUV with Nedeau still inside and then arrested Rushing on charges of vehicular homicide.
Rushing released on bond