COVINGTON, La. — A grieving Northshore family is speaking out about the emotional and senseless loss of a young husband and father.
It happened not far from Covington High School, on a busy two-lane highway used by families every day to drop their children off at school.
It was November 6, at a quarter to 5 p.m. Jeff Arabie was on his way home from work to be with his wife Stacy and the 3-year-old love of his life, Paisley.
On Ronald Reagan Highway, that two-lane stretch of Highway 190, he stopped to turn into the UPS Customer Center. In an instant, at only 35-years-old, he was gone. His car was struck from behind and pushed into oncoming traffic.
"He was my high school sweetheart. We met on our Disney senior trip," remembers his widow, Stacy Arabie.
Stacy says Jeff was a good husband, father and best friend since they were teens at Fontainebleau High School. Paisley now asks why daddy no longer puts her to sleep.
"She said, 'Well call Jesus and tell him. Jesus is God's son and so maybe he can talk to him and let him come back.' So we told her that, no, Jesus and God needed him to help with the wiring of the stars to keep the stars lit up," an emotional Stacy remembers telling her daughter.
She knows daddy loved engineering and building things. He was teaching her how to use tools.
"It's beyond devastation. And our precious granddaughter, just knowing all the gifts that he had will not be able to be shared through him," said Cheryl Arabi, Jeff's Mother.
The family says Jeff was selfless. He was an organ donor who never would have wanted the spotlight of this story, or community members offering to cook the family's Thanksgiving dinner, they said. He would not have wanted the many donations to help Stacy, now only on her pre-K teachers salary, or the hundreds at his funeral.
His funeral was the same morning another wreck happened just miles down the same highway that injured a driver.
Covington police say Jeff's wreck is under investigation. But police say, in general, they are seeing more wrecks from distracted driving.
"As more technology advances, you're going to see more people on their cellphones and we see it every day," said Sergeant Edwin Masters, the Public Information Officer with the Covington Police Department.
The turning lane on Ronald Reagan Highway ends right before the spot Jeff was stopped, ready to make his turn.
"It would be nice to have a turning lane there. I just don't want this to happen to anybody else," said Stacy.
They know Jeff's eye tissue was donated. They hope he'll help someone see, after his chance to see Paisley grow up, came to a sudden end.
If you'd like to help the family you can donate at any Whitney Hancock Bank to the Paisley Arabie fund.
Or, if you want to donate online, use this Facebook link here, because the family has already noticed someone trying to set up a fake donation site.