After Katie Mason got into a car crash Saturday night, the 28-year-old from Aquia, Virginia, had another thing to worry about.
Mason’s pug Stella ran from the car and onto busy Interstate 95, according to CBS6, after the woman drove off the street and hit a guardrail at around 10 p.m.
So Mason rushed to save the pup, Fox5 reported. But while she was on the road, a 2012 Honda Civic rammed into Mason and her beloved dog.
They were both pronounced dead at the scene, police say.
Mason’s heroic actions to save Stella didn’t surprise her family.
“Katie was a fiercely protective momma to her pets Stella and Sapphire,” the family wrote in a statement to Fox5. “She was passionate about all creatures big and small specifically big cats (lions) and small dogs.”
Family told NBC4 that Mason had just attended a wedding and was picking up Stella before going to visit a friend in Richmond. She opened her car door after the crash, police say, and that’s when the dog bolted out onto the perilous street.
Mason had served as a medic in the Army National Guard and Army Reserves. One of her former service members wrote that “it’s hard to say goodbye to a colleague who has been less of a co-worker and more of a friend,” according to NBC4.
A friend of Mason’s family called her death “so heartbreaking,” NBC4 reported. They said that “Katie was always kind, sweet and had a huge personality.”
The family asked for donations to be made out to African Wildlife Foundation under Mason’s name, Fox5 wrote.
“She would have loved to know she helped save just one lion.”