TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Earlier this week, a Kansas State University student Autumn Johnson was killed while trying to help a stranger on the highway.

Johnson wanted to be a veterinarian from the time she was 3 years old.

“I said, well you know you have to be very good at math and science, and she said, ‘okay’,” Darlene Johnson, Autumn’s mother said.

And, she was, completing all her undergrad classes for college before she even graduated high school. To fulfill her childhood dream, the Alaskan native moved to Manhattan, Kansas to study veterinary medicine with the goal of becoming a surgical veterinarian.

At 21 years old, she only had four years of education before graduating from veterinarian school. Then, this weekend tragedy struck.

Autumn was traveling back to Manhattan after dropping off her fiancé in Kansas City when she saw a rollover just off the interstate outside Topeka. Autumn got out of her car to help. She was hit by a driver in a box truck. She was rushed to the hospital but died later that day.

“One thing that she always said was in life, you’ve got a dash,” Alexander Johnson, her brother said. “What that is, is your birthday dash the day you die. That dash is what happens in between those dates. She always did her best to live her dash to the fullest extent that she could.”

From my limited time with her mother and brother, I can tell Autumn was special. In her everyday life, she showed compassion and selflessness to everyone around her, even those she didn’t know.

Now, her family is having to cope with the loss of a beloved daughter and sister. Instead of being resentful of the time they no longer have with Autumn, they’re choosing to look forward and push her mission of helping others in any way possible.

“I think she wants people to help and go for their dream,” Darlene said. “If they want to help animals, if they want to be a veterinarian, I think she would want them to do that, and not let anything get in their way. To work hard, and go get that dream.” 

The family is looking into setting up a memorial grant/scholarship in Autumn’s honor, allowing others who want to study animal science and help others, reach their dream.

They’ve also set up a GoFundMe, which you can view here.