The sun had only been up for an hour by the time the sound of sirens tore through the small West Texas town of Monahans.

Myranda "Randi" Williams spent most of her days in Denton County teaching Aubrey ISD fifth-graders, but since school was out, the 33-year-old took a trip to her hometown to visit her family. 

An avid cyclist, she had been training for a triathlon when her stepbrother, Richard, suggested they go for a Saturday morning bike ride. They pedaled east along Business Interstate 20, hugging the path of the railroad that stretched on for miles.

As the desert sun beat down on them, its rays blinded someone else. Monahans Police Chief William Riley said the 53-year-old man driving the Lincoln Town Car didn't even see Williams until he hit her from behind at 7:20 a.m.

"Richard said he was just talking to her one second and then she was gone," Williams' sister Olivia Larman said.

When she got hit, Williams fell back on the car windshield and caught herself as both her elbows lodged in the glass, Larman said. By the time the car came to a stop, she had rolled onto the pavement and her stepbrother was calling 911.

Local news reports say Williams was wearing her helmet during the ride. Though the extra protection ultimately saved her life, it couldn't prevent her many injuries. She was transported by helicopter to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa where doctors said she suffered two partially amputated arms, nine broken ribs, a deep cut in her left leg and other severe injuries.

Though Riley described the accident as "devastating," he said the driver didn't violate any traffic codes and no arrests were made. The chief said situations like these are especially heartbreaking because in a town roughly the size of Sanger, there's no such thing as a stranger.

"I've known that girl her whole life, so it makes it much harder," Riley said.

With multiple surgeries and a long recovery ahead, Williams is still in critical condition. Surgeons were able to save both arms, but she is still missing chunks of bone from each.

While Williams heals at the hospital, the communities of Monahans and Aubrey have sent her family prayers, well wishes and funds to help pay for medical expenses. 

In less than 24 hours, 204 people have contributed $19,545 on GoFundMe, putting the campaign less than $500 shy of its $20,000 goal. Many of the contributors were parents whose children had been in Williams' class.

"Her students adored her and she adored them," said Larman, who also works for Aubrey ISD. "She's just a connecting person. People know that she loves and cares for them. We've even had people drive from North Texas to come see her."

Back in Denton County, about 200 students, teachers and parents gathered at Aubrey Middle School on Sunday evening for a prayer vigil. Fuzzy's Taco Shop in Cross Roads is hosting a fundraiser for Williams from 5 to 9 p.m. June 21 with a portion of the proceeds going to her family.

"It has dropped us to our knees to see the outpouring of support," Larman said. "People have been asking about bake sales, car washes, anything you can think of. People want to help in any way they can. It's been overwhelming to our hearts."

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862.

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