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Calif. Special Education Teacher Was Killed In Las Vegas Shooting

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We're back now overlooking the lights of the Las Vegas Strip. We're at the Bellagio hotel, which is down the street from the concert site where 59 people were killed, including Sandy Casey. NPR's Ina Jaffe is learning about the victims. Who was Sandy Casey?

INA JAFFE, BYLINE: She was a 35-year-old special-education teacher at Manhattan Beach Middle School, which is south of LA. And she was attending the concert with her fiance, Christopher Willemse. I hope I'm pronouncing that correctly. And as with all the victims, the Las Vegas police haven't officially identified her, but her fiance posted about her death on Facebook. And he wrote, (reading) as I sit and mourn such a beautiful life gone too fast, all I can say is, look up and watch the birds fly high and free today, as that's where I feel you smiling down upon all of us. I love you, baby girl. Love you to pieces.

And her Facebook timeline was mostly photos of the two of them together in these gorgeous locations, desert canyons and rugged shorelines, looking deliriously happy.

INSKEEP: So what have you heard from people who knew her?

JAFFE: Well, she was obviously very well-known in - to her colleagues at the Manhattan Beach Unified School District. And actually, she was in Las Vegas at the same time with several of them. She was not the only one from the school district who was there. She was the only one of them who was killed. And there is a statement from the school superintendent, Michael Matthews, who said that (reading) her death hit the community hard, he wrote. (Reading) She is loved by students and colleagues alike and will be remembered for her sense of humor, her passion for her work, her devotion to her students, some of whom she'd work with year after year.

INSKEEP: Which is a reminder that hundreds or even thousands of people can be affected by just one of these 59 deaths.

JAFFE: Yeah. She, you know, was really a part of that community. And she grew up in Vermont, however, and she was remembered there, too.

INSKEEP: OK. Ina, thanks very much.

JAFFE: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Ina Jaffe, who will be filling us in on more of the victims in the Las Vegas shooting throughout today's program. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ina Jaffe is a veteran NPR correspondent covering the aging of America. Her stories on Morning Edition and All Things Considered have focused on older adults' involvement in politics and elections, dating and divorce, work and retirement, fashion and sports, as well as issues affecting long term care and end of life choices. In 2015, she was named one of the nation's top "Influencers in Aging" by PBS publication Next Avenue, which wrote "Jaffe has reinvented reporting on aging."
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