'Our hearts were broken': Friends remember Morro Bay native who died after giving birth

Morro Bay High School classmates described Amanda Sawyer, who died suddenly last week soon after giving birth to twins, as a woman with an acute sense of humor, a great laugh and a deep love for her children.

"Amanda had a fabulous sense of humor," former classmate Sarah Gabriel said Tuesday. "We were always laughing. I don't remember her ever being upset. ... She loved animals and was the funnest person I knew."

Sawyer, 37, had recently married Fresno County firefighter Nick Reeder in a ceremony in Monterey soon after learning she was pregnant with identical twin girls.

According to The Fresno Bee, Sawyer's pregnancy went smoothly, but just after her scheduled C-section, and Kelce and Kaia were born, Sawyer looked at her husband and said she wasn't feeling well.

She died within the hour.

"It was such a shock to hear about her passing," Gabriel said. "She was very healthy, and although complications are always a risk, it felt so unfair. I'm devastated for her children. I know how much she loved them and how much they need her."

Gabriel said she met Sawyer when the former was 4 and the latter 2; they were close throughout their childhood because their parents were friends, she said.

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Amanda Sawyer, left, with husband Nick Reeder, right. Sawyer died earlier this month after giving birth to twin girls. Now the community is rallying around Reeder, who is a Fresno County firefighter, to help support him and his five children. Screen shot Meal Train

Gabriel said the two lost touch in recent years as the pair grew up and Sawyer moved away.

On Tuesday, she recounted a particular story that stuck in her memory from their shared childhood: They took horse-riding lessons together and would spend a lot of time around the stables and barn. One time, when Sawyer was about 10, the pair took their horses for a ride by themselves and began racing.

"She was only 10 but very brave," Gabriel said. "I decided to slow down when my horse tripped, scaring me. She could have kept racing forever."

The news of Sawyer's death shocked other former classmates as well.

Sarah Flickinger, who graduated alongside Sawyer in 1998, said she and several of her classmates were in the process of planning for their 20-year class reunion this fall when they heard of Sawyer's passing.

"When this tragedy occurred, amidst all the planning and catching up, our hearts were broken," Flickinger said. "So many of us are parents, are husbands, are mothers; and we feel so deeply for Amanda's family during this time. Our hearts were broken for them and for the loss of a lifelong friend to so many."

Flickinger said several classmates attended Sawyer's services, and many have since contributed to a meal train in Clovis and the GoFundMe fundraiser for her five children.

The campaign to date has raised $38,661 of its original $37,000 goal.

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Sarah Gabriel said she and Sawyer grew up together because their parents were close friends and they shared a love of horseback riding. This is a Gabriel family photo with (from left) Jacob Terrell, Nathan Sawyer, Amanda Sawyer and Sarah Gabriel. Sarah Gabriel

The Morro Bay High School Class of 1998 will also hold a fundraiser this fall as part of its reunion to further support the family, as well as a diaper drive to help meet the twins' needs, Flickinger said.

"Amanda's presence will be — and already is — deeply missed, and many of her classmates are reaching out to help and support her family, her friends and one another however they are able," she said.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story misidentified Sarah Flickinger.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928; @kaytyleslie