The town of Reedsburg, Wisconsin, is mourning the death of a bride-to-be.
Paige Ruddy, 19, and her fiancé Logan Mitchell-Carter privately exchanged their vows Monday and had a small, family-oriented ceremony, per WMTV News. Their legal wedding at the Sauk County Courthouse on Tuesday, however, tragically never came to pass.
Ruddy was reportedly trapped on the second floor of a house fire Tuesday and died the next day from a brain hemorrhage as a result of smoke inhalation. Local fire department Chief Craig Douglas told the outlet Ruddy couldn’t navigate through the smoke to safety.
“She was just a precious human,” Ruddy’s aunt told the outlet Thursday. “There was nothing about her that you couldn’t like. She was this presence you never knew you needed in your life, but always did.”
Douglas told the outlet three other people were home at the time of the fire and managed to escape before firefighters arrived at the scene around 4 a.m. The fire chief added that foul play is currently not suspected, while the cause of the blaze remains unclear.
The house, which Ruddy and Mitchell-Carter were staying in and belonged to the groom’s grandparents, reportedly lacked any working smoke detectors. Ruddy’s family has since urged others to ensure their own homes are fitted with the functioning equipment.
Rudy graduated from the Reedsburg Area High School in June 2022. She planned to enroll in a veterinary technician program at Madison Area Technical College this fall — and hoped to nab a related associate degree for her future career.
“There are enough good qualities about Paige to fill up a room,” reads a GoFundMe page created to help with medical costs and funeral expenses. “Since she was a toddler Paige was full of life, ready to help anyone with anything, and an absolute joy … She was kind, fun, and according to her family had lots of spunk.” Launched Thursday, the GoFundMe has already surpassed its $10,000 goal after nearly 200 separate donations.
Lily Markgraf, who graduated high school alongside her, said Ruddy was the first friend she made after moving to Reedsburg in seventh grade.
“She had a big caring heart,” Markgraf told WMTV News. “She was there for anyone who needed it, even if she didn’t like the person. If they needed her help, she’d be there to help them. I’m going to miss her for the rest of my life.”
Ruddy’s family is planning to hold a private funeral service next week.