The St. Charles Parish community suffered a tragic blow this week with the passing of Montz native Sarah James, whose life was claimed Tuesday night at the age of 19.
The Destrehan High School alumnus was struck and killed while crossing Nicholson Drive in Baton Rouge, nearby the campus of LSU where she was attending school, according to Baton Rouge police. The accident occurred at approximately 11:30 p.m.
James was a highly accomplished student. She was Destrehan High School’s Class of 2018 salutatorian and St. Charles Parish’s High School Student of the Year in her senior year.
She left Destrehan High with aspirations of going into medicine and perhaps one day becoming a doctor. She studied biological engineering at LSU, and noted she was fascinated by the prospect of researching information that could lead to a major medical breakthrough.
James loved helping people.
“My goal is to improve people’s lives, hopefully in a really impactful way,” James told Herald-Guide last year just following her graduation. “The more I thought about it, I knew I wanted to go into medicine.”
She gave her time to lend a helping hand along her way to that goal. She regularly volunteered with the Matthew 25:35 food pantry in Destrehan, and was also involved in a mission trip to Mexico in which she worked with a construction team to help build houses for the underprivileged in the summer of 2017, and returned there in 2018 to assist with medical care.
“You hear about how bad some people have it in the world, and you don’t really realize it until you see it,” James said of her volunteering efforts. “It’s very eye-opening, and to know you’ve made a positive difference in someone’s life by helping to build a house, or a school, is very rewarding.”
St. Charles Parish officials released a statement Wednesday afternoon to express condolences over her death, noting “our hearts are broken.”
“All of us in St. Charles Parish are lifting the James family up in prayer,” said St. Charles Parish President Larry Cochran. “We should all honor Sarah by doing exactly what she set out to do; to make a positive difference in others’ lives.”
While at Destrehan, James was the president of the school’s National Honor Society, a member of the student council, and a member of the tennis team and was named captain in her senior year. She served as her class’ vice president while with the student council for two years.
Her participation was because she pushed herself beyond her comfort zone. James said she overcame shyness in her middle school years to push herself to join as many extracurricular activities as she could.
St. Charles United Methodist Church in Destrehan will hold a prayer vigil for James tonight (July 17) at 7 p.m.