p>A year ago, the pieces of Ida Ware Scott's life were falling into place.
The 23-year-old Lincolnton, Ga., woman was excited about finishing her first year as a special education teacher at Grovetown Middle School. She had been busy planning her June 6 beach wedding to longtime beau Justin Rickerson.
"She was just a sweet girl really, just honest, outgoing," Rickerson said. "She was one of a kind."
Instead of walking his youngest daughter down the aisle, however, Fred Scott planned her funeral.
Miss Scott died April 13 after her car hit a tree on Ray Owens Road in Appling.
"I've lost both my parents, and nothing compares to this," her father said.
Police say Miss Scott was killed when she passed a car at excessive speed. When her Nissan Maxima went off the road, she overcorrected, and the car veered across oncoming lanes and off the road and hit a tree, according to a Columbia County Sheriff's Office accident report.
The tree she hit, and several others along that stretch of Ray Owens Road, recently were removed at Mr. Scott's request to a county commissioner.
"The biggest thing to me was, if it had been done sooner, I might not be in the situation I am in," Mr. Scott said. He said a private engineer determined the tree his daughter hit was about 5 feet inside the right of way. "I feel like I've already lost, but I figured I could help from somebody else being in that same situation."
County crews gave Mr. Scott a chunk of the tree, and he has replaced a granite marker and cross at the crash site since the tree was cut down.
Matt Schlachter, Columbia County's Construction and Maintenance Services director, said the county tries to keep trees from encroaching on roads.
Crews would eventually have gotten to the stretch of Ray Owens Road where Miss Scott crashed, but Mr. Scott's request pushed the project up on the priority list, he said.
Mr. Scott and Rickerson, who hired surveyors to look at the right of way near the wreck site, contend the trees were well within the county right of way.
Trees, including the two that Mr. Scott asked to be removed, were not causing problems or generating complaints before the wreck, said county Roads and Bridges Manager Tim Holloway.
The trees were "at the back of the right of way, at the edge of the right of way," he said. On Ray Owens, the right of way extends about 10 feet from the edge of the road, he said.
"They (county officials) have to know that road is illegal," Rickerson said. "Somebody has to get killed for them to do something. ... I'm glad it ain't going to happen to nobody else."
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