car crash
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
September 12, 2023 ·  4 min read

“Pathway to Heaven” Captured in Photo of Fatal Car Crash

In 2017, there was a fatal car crash in Gainesville, Georgia. The accident took the lives of three people: Two young moms and one baby girl. Naturally, the families were devastated. Another young woman, however, captured a photo of the wreck while on her way to work that day. In the picture, what looks like a “pathway to heaven” can be seen floating up from the crash. Her photo has made a huge impact on the bereaved family members of the victims. (1)

Pathway To Heaven” Appears Over Fatal Car Crash

On April 25, 2017, 23-year-old Hannah Simmons was driving with her friend Lauren Buteau, 28. They were heading to Hannah’s nine-month-old daughter A’lannah’s routine check-up. For reasons unknown, Hannah lost control of the vehicle and they swerved into oncoming traffic. They then collided head-on with a truck coming in the opposite direction. While the truck driver was unharmed, the two moms and baby all died on-site. Tragically, Hannah was also a few months pregnant at the time with her and her fiance’s second baby. (2)

19-year-old Anisa Gannon was on her way to work that morning when the car crash happened. She was stuck in the traffic that it caused, and so decided to quickly snap a picture of the wreck to send to her boss.

The Pathway to Heaven

 Anisa didn’t want to get in trouble for being late to work. She didn’t notice anything special about the photo at first. She later showed it to her aunt, Tara Noble, who couldn’t believe what she was seeing. In the photo, there appeared to be this beam of light rising up from the wreck. The path went straight up to the sky – right up to heaven.

“She said, ‘Anisa, it looks like a pathway up to heaven,’ ” Anisa said.

Once Tara noticed it, she couldn’t get the idea out of her head that maybe, just maybe, a photo like this might be comforting to the victims’ families and friends. She got to work tracking down Hannah and Lauren’s families so that she could give them the photo.

pathway to heaven car crash photo
Photo taken by Anisa Gannon which was dubbed “A Pathway to Heaven”

A Beam of Light In A Dark Time

Tara says that she just wanted to give the families some peace. After all, they had just lost daughters, granddaughters, sisters, wives, mothers, partners, and friends. They lost a baby, who had her whole life ahead of her, as well as one that hadn’t even yet been born. Hannah’s fiance lost the love of his life and his children all in one go. Lauren’s two young children lost their mother. She knew that the photo wouldn’t make the pain go away, but it could at least bring them some comfort. She achieved just that.

“I just needed something to show me that they were in Heaven and that they were OK,” Judy Simmons, Hannah’s mom, said. “And that was my confirmation.”

Lauren’s mother Dana Buteau shared Judy’s sentiment.

“I can’t explain the feeling [that] came over me,” Dana said. “It was like watching them go to heaven.”

Read: A young girl spots her grandmother’s stroke

Comfort And Peace

Jodi Carter, Lauren’s aunt, says that the photo has helped her immensely. She explains that it gave her hope and has helped her get through this tragic time. Dana said the photo gave her indescribable peace.

“Nothing’s ever going to be the same, my heart’s broken and I miss them daily,” Judy said, who keeps the photo on top of her TV so she can see it every day. “If it wasn’t for the picture, I don’t know, it made it a whole lot better for me.”

Hannah’s family describes her as a very happy person who loved being a mom. She enjoyed playing patty cake and singing nursery rhymes with A’lannah. At nine months old the baby girl was already ripping around the house with the help of her baby walker. Lauren’s family describes her as a loving mother who was always “the life of the party”.

“If she walked into a room, everyone knew it, she always had a smile on her face and she would do anything for anybody.” described her mother.

Hannah’s fiance was completely devastated. One day, he was still learning how to be a new dad, preparing for a second baby, and planning his wedding with Hannah to planning his soon-to-be wife and his baby girl’s funerals. He says that the photo has helped him find some peace as he navigates a life that will now look very different from the one that he was envisioning.

“[the photo] is bringing me peace, I know they’re watching down on me. It’s helping a lot.” he said.

Anisa and Tara feel terribly for the grieving families. They are aware that the photo cannot take away the pain of losing their loved ones. The pair are glad, however, that it can at least bring the families a little bit of comfort, peace, and hope as they continue to grieve.

Keep Reading: ‘They wanted to make her soup – so I had to explain she was going to heaven’


  1. ‘Pathway to Heaven’ Photo of Fatal Car Crash Comforts Victims’ Relatives: ‘It Is Bringing Me Peace’.” People. Diane Herbst. May 8, 2017.
  2. Stairway to Heaven: Mysterious Beam of Light Seen Rising From Scene of Tragic Car Accident.” Inside Edition. IE Staff. May 15, 2017.