A beloved Texas teacher visiting family in her hometown died this week after she was swept away by floodwaters while out for a hike with her husband.
Christina Garcia-Mata, 39, was hiking in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso with her husband Gabriel on Monday when she was swept away by water and fell down a mountain around 4 p.m., the El Paso Times reported.
Her body was reportedly recovered about two hours later, and an investigation by the El Paso Police Department ruled the death accidental.
"From what I understand there was just a river of water that came down the mountain and swept my little sister off a cliff. I guess it just started pouring," her sister Sarah Garcia told Fox affiliate KFOX. "[Gabriel] was able to hold onto a tree and grab himself right before the cliff went out."
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Garcia-Mata — who had a 7-year-old son named Jabril — was a longtime teacher who family and friends described as "the kindest person they ever met," according to a GoFundMe page.
"Christy was a beautiful soul whose kindness, happiness and optimism brought so much goodness into this world," the page said. "She was a passionate teacher who loved to sing, dance, and care for people. Christy adored music and the outdoors and traveled the world with her husband and son."
She was a teacher at Akins Early College High School since 2006, and was voted Akins Teacher of the Year in 2018, according to Akins Eagle Eye, the student newspaper.
Garcia-Mata taught various classes, including Teen Leadership, SEL, U.S. History and AVID, and was a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso.
"It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Ms. Christina Garcia-Mata. She was a kind soul who always had a huge smile on her face and made friends with everyone," the school wrote in a statement shared to Facebook. "She will be deeply missed by all staff as well as her students. Akins will not be the same without her."
Though Garcia-Mata and her family lived in Austin, they were reportedly visiting family in her hometown of El Paso when tragedy struck.
"Her son told his dad that, 'We are going to have to live good lives for our mama. Just me and you,'" Sarah Garcia told KFOX. "She is such a good soul. She is truly an angel on earth."