Bluffton woman mourns daughter following car fire

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Bluffton woman mourns daughter following car fire

Retired teacher also lost her husband earlier this month
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013   |  596 Words  |  

The magnitude of Almut Ryan's loss is only beginning to hit her.

She has another funeral to plan, and a grandson to raise.

On Wednesday, the Beaufort County Coroner's Office identified her daughter Amanda Ryan as the woman found inside a burning car early Tuesday on S.C. 46.

"As the days go by, I'm going to realize it," said Ryan, who recently retired as a teacher from the Beaufort County school district. "She's not here."

The death of Ryan's daughter comes just 17 days after she lost her husband. William Ryan, 64, died of a heart attack Jan. 12 after jumping into a swimming pool to rescue his grandson -- Amanda's 5-year-old son Maddox.

"Mandy was having a lot of trouble with it," she said. "For her to think her father died saving her son, it just tore her up."

A preliminary autopsy at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston indicated the victim, who was 33, died of smoke inhalation, according to Beaufort County Deputy Coroner David Ott.

It's not clear what caused the fire, but investigators have found no evidence of foul play or that it was intentionally set, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

Amanda had lived in Bluffton for most of her life, often at her parents' home with Maddox.

She attended schools in Bluffton and on Hilton Head Island and worked at area restaurants such as the Olive Garden and the Salty Dog Cafe, according to her mother. That made Amanda well-known and widely liked, her mother said.

Courtney Gibbes, who graduated Hilton Head Island High School with the younger Ryan, said the class of 1997 "truly lost one of its stars."

"Everybody who knew Mandy was the better for it," Gibbes said. "Her smile was infectious as was her ability to light up the room."

Amanda also was close to her father and worked for a time at his business. He was a dental technician and owner of Ryan Dental Lab.

Earlier this month, the family was gathered at the Ryan home on Buck Point Road when Maddox fell into the partially filled swimming pool. Ryan said the child did not seem to be in serious danger when William jumped in to rescue him. However, William immediately lost consciousness and began to sink, Ryan said.

Paramedics took him to Hilton Head Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He was buried Jan. 18, according to his obituary.

Ryan said she has told Amanda's son that his mother is in heaven with his grandfather. Both, she told him, are watching over him. She said raising the child will be good for her, and that he will be surrounded by the love of his family. Ryan's two sons and their families also live in Bluffton.

She said funeral arrangements for Amanda are pending at Sauls Funeral Home. The family is considering setting up a memorial fund for Maddox, she said.

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