As the community struggles with the deaths of a Pulaski County mother and daughter from a sudden illness, one group is remembering how Julie Simpkins helped others.
Julie Simpkins helped run the Meals on Wheels program in Radford. And she is going to be missed by many.
"What went through my head was, I can't believe Julie is gone," volunteer Bob Thomas said.
On Tuesday food was being prepped, cooked and packaged. It will soon be on its way to those in need of a hot meal. But sadly, volunteers learned Monday that the lady who oversaw the operation had died.
Julie Simpkins helped coordinate which volunteers would take a food delivery, but that never happened Monday. Volunteers called Julie, but got no answer. They didn't realize she had died, along with her daughter, of what health officials are calling an isolated illness.
“You don't expect someone who you work with on a regular basis, who was young and vivacious and well-organized and you depend on her, you don't expect that person to be gone suddenly,” volunteer Bob Thomas said.
Pulaski County officials say the illness is suspected to be Hantavirus, which Julie and five others came in contact with while cleaning out a mobile home.
Three other family members and a family friend are out of the hospital. Though that's good news, hearts are still grieving.
For now food will continue to be served and those in need will be fed, as this group copes with the loss of their star volunteer.
Health officials have not officially confirmed that Simpkins died from Hantavirus.