A University student died in a two-car wreck in Opp, Ala., Sunday en route to Tuscaloosa, according to UA reports.
Nicole Francois, a sophomore majoring in public relations, ran off the right side of the road as she was driving on Highway 331, said Kristen Saban, a sophomore majoring in telecommunication and film.
“[Francois] overcorrected herself trying to get back on the road, and the car spun into the oncoming lane,” Saban said. “It was raining, and an oncoming car hit the passenger side and she was instantly killed.”
Saban said she first met Francois when they were high school freshmen in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
“Nicole was the first person to approach me,” she said. “I remember her saying, ‘I know you don’t talk much, but I know why, and I think I can get you to talk! Come sit with me and my friends at lunch today, please!’ I was pretty excited that someone as nice as her took me under her wing that year.
“Within the moment that I sat down with her that day, we became the best of friends. Up until now, we have been inseparable and two peas in a pod. We did everything together, went everywhere together. If we went shopping, we always bought matching things. We called each other sisters.”
Though Saban moved to Tuscaloosa in the middle of her sophomore year of high school, she said she and Francois vowed to remain friends.
“When college finally came around, Nicole and I moved into our dorm and went through rush together,” she said. “We both pledged Phi Mu, had classes together and did everything together, yet again.”
By Monday, Francois’ Facebook wall was filled with posts ending in “LIOB,” a Phi Mu parting wish to fellow sisters that stands for “love in our bond.”
“Nicole was such an irreplaceable part of our sisterhood and family,” Phi Mu President Chelsea Cernosek said. “Nicole’s memory will remain close to our hearts, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who were touched by her life.”
Melanie Miller, associate dean of students, said Francois’ absence will not go unnoticed.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Nicole Francois,” she said. “She was a treasured member of the Alabama family and she will be greatly missed.”
Tyler Reed, a senior majoring in political science and former SGA vice president for academic affairs, was dating Francois. He said he’s finding it hard to gather the strength to talk about the accident.
“At this time, I cannot express into words the emotions that I am feeling,” he said. “This is an unbelievable tragedy, but she was put in our lives for a special purpose. Nicole is an amazing person and the time anyone spent with her is a blessing. She knows of the great friends she has and the support they have given is overwhelming.”
Saban agreed; Francois’ friends counted themselves lucky.
“She touched so many people’s lives and was there for me through thick and thin,” Saban said. “Every person she met while being here loves her so much and will never forget her. Losing my best friend will never leave my thoughts, but I am so glad to know that my very best friend is now my guardian angel and she will be with me all of the time. I learned so much from her about how to be a better person and to love everyone, and I will never regret one moment I ever spent with her.”
Cernosek said there will be a campus memorial will be held. Details will be posted as they are acquired.