In a horrifying tragedy, Monica Spear was gunned down this week by armed criminals in Venezuela.
The former beauty pageant was on vacation with her estranged husband and five-year old daughter when their car broke down and they waited for a tow truck on the side of the road.
The family was then ambushed and Spear was shot to death, along with Henry Thomas Berry, after the trio locked themselves inside their vehicle. The little girl was wounded in the leg.
Family members and loved ones say Spear and Berry actually split a few years ago, but remained very close.
"They were a great couple," said Luis Dominguez, who owned an adventure tour company with Berry and spoke to him Sunday over the phone. "They were having the greatest time."
Spear — a graduate of the University of Central Florida and winner of the 2004 Miss Venezuela pageant - was a "happy, outgoing person," according to Dominguez.
"She didn't need luxury," he said. "They only needed each other. She wasn't flashy. She was a beautiful person to be around."
Spear's brother said Monica used her fame to try and help others, raising awareness for issues such as domestic violence and autism; she once a child with Asperger's syndrome to a Telemundo gala event.
"She was a person with dreams, and a person who worked really hard for what she wanted," he said. He noted that the organizer of the national beauty pageant — known for its cutthroat competition — had called her "an angel."
The couple's toddler of a daughter, Maya, is in good condition and will be surrounded by love when she leaves the hospital.
"I'm without words," Jencarlos Canela, Spear's ex's colleague Tweeted yesterday. "I will miss my friend @MonicaSpear. And I love you, beautiful Maya. You are not alone!"