Katie Evans had always dreamed of having a little girl. So when she gave birth to twin daughters in August, the excited mother spent as much time as possible with the premature girls in the hospital.
“She waited 15 years for these girls,” Katie’s husband, Jacob Evans, tells PEOPLE. “They were incredibly precious to her.”
Katie’s life with the babies and her four older children was cut short on Friday when a 21-year-old driver crashed into her car, killing her almost immediately as she headed home after visiting the little girls in the hospital. She was about a mile from her Santa Clarita, California, home.
“The last time I spoke to Katie was 11 o’ clock that night,” Jacob says. “She called me to let me know that she was going to be coming home … the hours between 2:30 [a.m.] and 5:30 [a.m.] were the longest of my life.”
Jacob says he became worried when Katie, a 37-year-old devoted mom of six, hadn’t returned home, so he got in his car to retrace her route from the hospital. He stumbled upon the crash near the intersection of Golden Valley Road and Valley Center Drive where he learned his wife has been involved in the accident.
“I called the hospital and she hadn’t been admitted so I was pretty sure that she hadn’t made it,” Jacob says, noting that a coroner came to his house and confirmed the death around 5:30 a.m.
Now police are working to determine whether the driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash. But Jacob, 41, says he doesn’t focus on how his wife died, instead, he wants to remember how she lived.
“I’m not angry at the driver,” he says. “There’s too much anger in the world already.”
A Journey to Motherhood
Katie was a devoted stay-at-home mom to four boys — Spencer, 12, Travis, 11, Nathaniel, 9 and 2-year-old Gideon. She and Jacob had begun trying to have another child as little Gideon sought a sibling closer to his age.
“She had a total of three miscarriages. I’m fairly sure that we would not have tried again if this pregnancy had ended in miscarriage,” Jacob tells PEOPLE. “Katie and I are pretty old to be having more children and we thought perhaps we were done.”
She became pregnant and the couple soon learned that Katie was carrying twins. Jacob says doctors told them the pregnancy was “extremely high-risk” and said the babies would likely not survive. However, Katie gave birth to Sarah and Hannah on Aug. 13 (at 12 weeks early) by emergency caesarean section — the girls each weighed just over one pound.
“She willed them to survive and thrive. She couldn’t go a day without seeing them them … she wanted to hold them every day,” Jacob tells PEOPLE. “She wasn’t allowed to do that for the first month, so it was only after about a month that she was able to start holding them.”
Jacob says Katie dreamed of having a little girl ever since they got married on June 7, 2002.
“[Katie] was always there for them and she waited 15 years to finally have a girl. She had four boys so these two girls were incredibly loved and I’m sure still are,” he says.
The twins’ birth weights have since doubled and Jacob says he sees a lot of Katie in the little girls.
“Katie is smart and sassy and I see in Sarah and Hannah the same sassiness,” he says. “The first time I held Sarah she was wiggling like crazy. I was so scared of hurting her when I held her but she was very feisty and wiggling and pushing and kicking as hard as she could.
“That fight, that will do do things and to live is very much Katie. I knew she was smart and sassy when I married her.”
Life After Katie
“These past few days have been exhausting and challenging,” Jacob, a director of production at ITT Aerospace Controls, says of the days following Katie’s death.
“I’ve been missing my wife even more because she was the one I would solve difficult problems with and trying to figure out how to raise these six children without their mother is the most difficult problem I’ve ever tried to solve.”
Jacob praises the friends and family members who have been helping him and the boys in the wake of Katie’s death. He says having the support helped him break the tragic news to his sons. “They immediately cried their little hearts out,” he says.
Now, as the kids grieve the loss of their mother and Jacob the death of his wife and “best friend,” the widower says he’s coming to terms with the idea of being a single parent.
“She was my best friend and my collaborator,” Jacob says through tears. “She always helped me solve the difficult problems and I feel like I’m trying to tie a knot with only one hand because she was my other hand.”
The family will hold a closed-casket reception for Katie on Friday and a funeral on Saturday, Jacob tells PEOPLE. She will be buried near her parents in Utah.
A YouCaring fundraiser has been started to help cover living expenses for the family.
Memories for Sarah and Hannah
Jacob says Katie had big dreams for her little girls and the family now plans to compile a book of memories about Katie to present to the twins when they are older.
“Katie believed very strongly that women could make just as great an impact on the world as men could,” Jacob begins. “She wanted her girls to grow up to be leaders who help shape the world for good. She wanted them to be examples of a world with more kindness and more compassion more service.”
He adds: “She just wanted her girls to make the world a better place. I will tell them that she loved them more than anything in the world and that she still does and that she’s watching over them and that they have a great legacy to live up to.”