RINGGOLD, Va. – Judging from the pictures of Shannon Paul’s five young children on her Facebook page, she was a dedicated mother who enjoyed making her kids smile and laugh and brought joy to their hearts.

“Each child was special to her in their own little way,” said her mother, Martha Kunze of Kailing, Va. “Whatever those kids wanted to do, that’s what she did. … She made sure that everyone had their special moments.”

Mrs. Paul, who grew up in York, died on Aug. 26 from injuries she sustained in a car accident. She was 29.

She is survived by her husband, Eric Paul of Ringgold, and their children, Lucas, 8; Tyson, 6; Bradley, 3; Alisha, 2; and Gabrielle, 8 months.

Mrs. Paul graduated from York (Maine) High School in 2000. As a student, she worked at the Ballou & Bedell law firm in York as an executive assistant. She worked for the firm for about eight years. For some of that time, she also worked at the Izod outlet store in Kittery.

There, she met Melissa Burns of Sanford, her husband’s aunt. Burns introduced the couple. The Pauls met on Labor Day weekend nine years ago. They were married for five years.

“Shannon was extremely happy with their life,” her mother said. “They planned on getting old together, sitting back in their rocking chairs and watching their grandbabies. This was a forever.”

Burns described Mrs. Paul on Thursday as carefree, fearless and beautiful. She said Mrs. Paul embraced life and loved unconditionally. “She was an inspiration to me,” Burns said.

Reflecting on hearing the news of the accident, she said, “I was crushed when I got the call. When someone so young, vibrant and happy dies, you can’t understand it. You can’t put words on it. It’s almost too much to take in.”

Mrs. Paul worked at a U.S. Cellular store in North Conway, N.H., before she transferred to a store in Roanoke, Va., in July.

“She loved helping people,” Kunze said. “She loved meeting new people and helping people out. You couldn’t leave the store unhappy.”

On the night of the accident, Mrs. Paul stayed long after her shift ended to help a customer.

The crash happened around 8 p.m. on Aug. 26. Mrs. Paul was going west on Route 670 in her Dodge pickup truck when it was struck head-on by a Ford Explorer driven by Tommie Dent, 31, of Lynchburg.

Sgt. Robert Carpentieri, a public information officer with the Virginia State Police, said Thursday that Dent and Mrs. Paul both died at the scene.

Mrs. Paul’s mother said she called just before the accident, around 7:30 p.m. When Mrs. Paul didn’t make it home, her husband brought the kids to Kunze’s house so he could look for her. Within minutes, police told them of the accident.

“We were just devastated and numb,” her mother said. “It’s like I’m living a bad dream. … I keep thinking about those poor kids. How are they going to understand Mommy is gone and she isn’t coming back? … It’s like you have to keep going because there are five little ones who need to know how much she loved them.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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