COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Grieving family members are honoring the lives of a Columbus couple found dead after they had been missing for nearly a month.
James Cole, 18, and Sierra Von Der Heide, 18, were found near a bridge on County Line Road in Midland, where the Muscogee County coroner ruled their death as accidental.
"I know God has his plans, I just feel like if this was going to happen I am just glad that they were together," says Jean von der Heide, Sierra's grandmother.
Sierra and Cole went missing in mid-May so for nearly a month, their family remained prayerful that maybe the couple had run away.
Sierra's father, William von der Heide, said his world came crashing down Monday afternoon when a close relative informed them of the devastating news.
"I hate that she was under there for a month, I wanted to see her one last time but they told me she isn't recognizable," William said.
Sierra and Cole's bodies were found near a bridge on County Line Road along with Cole's motorcycle. Williams says Sierra was the oldest of three and she will be dearly missed by her younger siblings.
"She was like a mother figure to me, she taught me everything I know. The last time we saw her she gave us all a hug and said I love you but I never could have imagined it would have been our last goodbye," says Sierra's younger sister, Savannah.
Cole's family declined an interview but says they want to thank the Columbus Police Department for all of their hard work.