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Father and daughter, both Houston-area educators, killed on 'trip of lifetime' in Germany

ABC 13 Houston logo ABC 13 Houston 7/27/2021 KTRK
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A father and daughter who worked as educators in the Houston area for years were killed in a car crash during a long-awaited trip to Germany.

Leighan Cortes taught sixth grade science at Pin Oak Middle School in Bellaire since 2015.

Her father, Randy Meek, taught for 11 years at Manvel High School and continued as a substitute teacher even after retiring. The two planned a trip to Germany prior to the pandemic but were not able to go until last month.

Cortes' daughters said she always wanted to return to the country.

Meek was stationed in Germany during his time in the military, so he and his family lived there for about seven years while Cortes grew up.

"She was very dedicated to go," said Jessica Cortes. "She was learning German faithfully and it was so annoying, because she would talk to me in German and I would be like, 'Mom, I don't know what you're saying!'"

From what family could tell, the father and daughter were having a great time in Germany.

They called it "a trip of a lifetime".

"She was so excited," said Jacey Kerfoot, another one of Leighan's daughters. "Any time any of us would talk to her, we would say, 'It's OK, it's OK, just wait until you get home. Tell us everything. We want to know everything, but right now, you have fun."

With just two days left in their trip, family members said the two got in a car crash on July 19 near Freiburg, Germany, and both were killed.

At first, her daughters didn't believe the news.

"It was the worst day of my entire life, honestly," Kerfoot said. "It was absolutely the worst day of my life. I cannot describe the feeling. I have never felt fear and sorrow that strong, honestly. It was horrific."

They said they take some comfort in knowing she was with her father when she died and the two had wonderful experiences together.

Amid their grief, the family is having to coordinate with the German consulate to have their loved ones and all of their possessions sent back to the U.S. so they can be laid to rest.

They have sent documentation to the U.S. consul in Germany and are told it will be weeks before the two are back.

"Until her and everything they had with them is home, it almost feels like the grieving process is on hold" Kerfoot said.

The family is eager to see Cortes' camera to live some of their mother's and grandfather's last days.

Cortes leaves behind a husband and six children. She was also a singer and sang with her church choir every Sunday.

Meek is a retired Master Sergeant in the Army.

Meanwhile, Alvin ISD released the following statement about his death:

"We are deeply saddened by the news of Randy Meek's passing. He was a long-time employee of Alvin ISD and taught multiple subjects at Manvel High School. His love for life came through in everything he did and he will be greatly missed by our students and staff. Our hearts go out to his family during this unthinkable tragedy."

The family has created a GoFundMe to help them with the hardships this unexpected tragedy has put on them.

For updates on this report, follow ABC13 reporter Mycah Hatfield on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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