When an Enfield mom ventured into the woods of Granby with her teenage daughter and a family friend last week, no one expected the outing to be her last.
Margaret Johansen, 42, drove out to an area known as "the gorge" Wednesday with her 17-year-old daughter and a friend, who was navigating.
"There was like a waterfall that you could slide down," recalled Johansen's daughter, Caitlin. "It was a steep, like, rocky hill. So we started to go down, and she stepped where there was a bee hive."
Johansen, who suffers from asthma, was stung and had trouble making it back up the hill to her car. Her daughter found an expired Epipen in the glove compartment and used it in desperation. Doctors later Johansen she went into anaphylactic shock and cardiac arrest.
"She was like, 'I’m going to pass out.' I told her that she wasn’t going to, that she was going to stay with me," Caitlin Johansen said.
Caitlin Johansen and her friend called 911, then drove Margaret Johansen to the Bloomfield fire station, where police and paramedics met them.
Margaret Johansen never woke up. Doctors could not say exactly what killed her. She did not undergo an autopsy, and her daughter said she had been stung by bees before and never had a reaction.
"She went out of her way to make sure that everybody was taken care of," said Caitlin Johansen, who described her mother as her best friend. "A mother and daughter who are so close and like just like they’re best friends first, and mother daughter second, and that’s exactly how we were."
A single mom, Johansen did everything with her daughter. Now, as Caitlin Johansen prepares to head off to Hofstra University in New York next weekend, she struggles to mark the milestone without her mother.
"You always picture that day like being with your mom. You’re starting the next part of your life and you expect her to be there," said Caitlin Johansen.
While she may not have her mom by her side, Caitlin Johansen said received amazing support from family and friends.
"There’s just so many people that she has touched that like need or want to help me," she said as her eyes welled up with tears. "People are going out of their way to make sure that I’m OK and make sure everything I need is taken care of. It’s overwhelming in the best way possible."