SANGER — Cheryl Garcia rarely talked about her breast cancer diagnosis before she jumped off the Keaton Road overpass onto Interstate 35 on Wednesday night, according to her neighbors in Sanger.
Her next-door neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said Garcia had been diagnosed with breast cancer about a year ago. But she doesn't know why the 52-year-old would kill herself.
She said Garcia was a loving person who had lived in the duplex next door on Plum Street for about four years.
"You never know what goes on behind closed doors, but outside, she was always happy and always talking to [my] kids," the neighbor said. "My son mows her yard, and my daughter will go play with her cats and dog. They would sit out here and plant stuff [in the garden]."
The neighbor said Garcia's ex-husband, Darren Beaudin, had just moved back in with her around February, and everything about her "seemed OK." Garcia worked as a nurse and loved her daughter and grandchildren, the neighbor said.
The neighbor said Garcia had at least one daughter but was unsure if she had other children.
Clayton Brown, who lived in the adjacent duplex, said Garcia appeared to work long hours. She would always leave early in the morning when he left for work around 5 a.m. and come home about 6 p.m., he said.
He described her as "loving" and "easygoing."
"She's come over here and offered me food," he said.
Denton County public records show Garcia went by the name Cheryl Beaudin prior to her divorce in 2011. David McLerran, former pastor at Christian Gathering Church in Valley View, said he knew her as "Sherry" Beaudin when she attended services at the church for about two years from 2010 to 2012.
He said she was a religious person and attended church weekly.
"She never missed a service," he said, adding that she lived in Gainesville at the time.
Garcia's death affected more than just her friends and neighbors. Sanger firefighters saw her jump off the bridge into the northbound lanes while they were responding to a hay fire near Krum, according to Sanger Fire Chief David Pennington.
He said she jumped as two brush trucks and one ambulance were passing over the bridge from Fifth Street. She jumped into northbound lanes after the first truck crossed the overpass, he said. She struck a car before she was pronounced dead at the scene.
"The crazy thing is, the first [truck] had already passed her. ... She parked her car in between the first truck going by and the second one coming up [on the bridge], and jumped over," Pennington said. "The guys that were in the second apparatus are the ones who saw her jump over."
He said the crew stayed on the scene and closed the northbound lanes for about three hours until medical examiners arrived. They called police dispatch, which sent another agency to cover the hay fire.
Pennington, who's been the Sanger fire chief since 2000, said he couldn't recall another instance in which Sanger fire crews witnessed a dramatic death before being dispatched.
"Any time there's that type of trauma to a person, those are things you're going to relive," he said. "It may not be this year. It may not be next year. But when you see a scene like that, that's something that's going to stick with them. They're going to relive it later in life."
Anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide can call the Denton County MHMR crisis hotline at 1-800-762-0157. Denton County MHMR treats people with a mental health diagnosis or developmental disabilities.
JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882.
FEATURED IMAGE: Sanger resident Cheryl Garcia, 52, jumped off the overpass at Keaton Road and Interstate 35 on Wednesday. Neighbors said she had been diagnosed with breast cancer but rarely talked about it. (Julian Gill/DRC)