Victim of I-35 pileup near Merriam was father of three with baby on the way

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – The family of a man killed in a pileup on Interstate 35 on Tuesday are remembering him as a loving father and husband who was strong in his faith.

Bianca Zerni said her brother-in-law, Jesse Miller, brought joy wherever he went.

“He was just a radiant person,” Zerni said, speaking on behalf of the family. “He was always smiling. No matter what, if Jesse was in the room, happiness was there.”

Miller crashed into a semi-trailer that broke down on the side of I-35, near Merriam, Tuesday morning. The Kansas Highway Patrol said the semi wasn’t completely off the highway. The 31-year-old hit the trailer, which caused a chain reaction involving a total of seven vehicles. Miller died and two others were hurt.

“The day he passed away he was actually on his way to another customer’s house,” Zerni said of her brother-in-law, who worked for a HVAC company.

Zerni said family was Miller’s world. He married his wife, Lisamarie, in June 2018. However, the couple had been together since 2014. They have three children with a fourth child on the way. Lisamarie is due in July.

“They actually just found out they were expecting right before Thanksgiving, a couple weeks before and Jesse was really excited,” Zerni said.

Zerni said faith was at the center of everything her brother-in-law did.

“If it wasn’t for the faith Jessie established in his family, this would be much harder for us right now,” she said. “He loved talking about God.”

On a white board in the basement of his home, Miller had previously scribbled a list of his dreams and goals. He wanted to run his own business, live in the country on 20 acres, travel the world but, above all, he wanted to be closer to God.

“He was always strong in the Lord,” his sister-in-law said.

Miller’s relatives said their finding comfort in knowing that their loved one is now with his Maker.

“Although it is so tragic that Jesse is not here with us today, we rejoice and give thanks to God that he created a wonderful place for us to go after our life here on Earth and we know that Jesse is there,” Zerni said.

Miller’s family will hold a celebration of life for him on Saturday at Countryside Baptist Church in Overland Park. A GoFundMe page for his family garnered more than $40,000 as of Friday night.

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