Many remember NC mom and daughter killed after car plunges into pond

SANFORD, N.C. (WNCN) — The lives of a Sanford mother and daughter were cut short this weekend in a tragic car crash.


Troopers said 29-year-old Jessica Kuk and her 6-year-old daughter Kristina Smith were in the car that plunged into a pond in Lee County Saturday afternoon.

Troopers say the car veered off the right side of the road, overcorrected and crossed the center line. Then they say the car flipped off the road and went into a pond.

Authorities told CBS North Carolina that neighbors tried to get the pair out of the lake, but Kristina died at the scene and her mother died later in the hospital.

“I was shocked,” said Kuk’s friend, Bree Dowdy. “I didn’t believe it. I still kind of don’t. It’s hard because I just talked to Jessica a few days ago. I just saw both of them a few days ago. I still have messages on my phone and I just wish I could text her and her still answer.”

Friends said Kuk and her daughter spent a lot of their time at San-Lee Chapel. The pastor there says Kuk loved to volunteer at their children’s ministry.

“We do a lot of outreaches and Jessica was bilingual so she would go and translate for us,” said Pastor Dan Sauls. “I don’t think there’s a job in the church she would not do.”

Those who knew Kristina said that she loved gummy bears, coloring, and playing house.

“Kristina’s smile would light up the whole church every time she smiled,” said Sauls.


“Kristina was shy at first, but when she got to know you she was so talkative,” said Dowdy. “You could not get her to stop talking and laughing and playing around with you.”

We spoke with Kristina’s father, James Smith.

He didn’t want to go on camera, but he did tell CBS North Carolina this, “Kristina was an amazing little girl. She was full of life… She has a dream of growing up and being a police officer.”

Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the mother and daughter’s funeral expenses.

“Every time I saw them both if I was having the worst day they’d always put a smile on my face — and that’s what I’m gonna miss the most,” said Dowdy.

Members of their church family say they have no doubts the family is in a better place.

“It doesn’t have to be goodbye, it could be see ya later,” said Sauls.

Troopers say they believe speed played a role in the crash. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol is still investigating.