A family member of Samantha Dannecker, who passed away in March, and her infant daughter Lyla tells PEOPLE that “Lyla will always know how much her mommy loved her,”


While giving birth to her first child, a girl baby, a New York woman passed away last month.

Samantha Dannecker, 28, passed away “unexpectedly” on March 25 at Richmond University Medical Center, according to her obituary and a GoFundMe page started by her husband, Nicholas, and their daughter Lyla Grace.

“Those who knew Samantha had no doubt she would be the best mother. She had the sweetest, kindest, gentlest soul and was born to be a mommy,” according to a statement on the fundraising page set up by Vanessa Dannecker, the deceased’s sister-in-law.


“We can’t even begin to put into words the gravity of this loss and what our families are feeling right now, especially her husband Nicholas and newborn daughter Lyla who was never able to meet her mother,” continued the message, which did not include additional details about Samantha’s death.

In a statement to PEOPLE, Vanessa says that the family is “beyond devastated over the loss of our Samantha.”

“Lyla will always know how much her mommy loved her,” Vanessa adds. “There is no greater love than a mother giving up her life for her child.”

Samantha and Nicholas Dannecker. GOFUNDME

As for the newborn, “She is a fighter just like her mama,” Vanessa says.

“Baby Lyla is continuing to make great progress,” she adds. “She had her CPAP machine, and IV removed. Now we are focusing on getting Lyla to eat independently so they can remove her feeding tube. We can’t wait to welcome her home.”

In the latest update on GoFundMe, Samantha’s husband shared that Lyla was “getting more alert and vocal each day.”

“We still have a few other things to focus on before she gets to come home, but we are fighting it out!” Nicholas wrote. “Thank you to all that have donated, shared, or prayed for our family!”

People who knew Samantha described her as a cherished family member “and a friend to so many.”

“She has taught us all how to love in the strongest of ways, to be the most thoughtful person in the room, [and] always to smile the biggest,” reads a message on her obituary. “She will be truly missed beyond words.”

Besides working at a Pre-K center in Richmond, Samantha “spent many hours volunteering for Have A Heart Foundation of Staten Island, a foundation that meant the world to her and her family.”

The group, which aids Staten Islanders with heart problems, expressed their “complete brokenness” in a tribute on their social media website.

“We are holding the Conti and Dannecker families in our hearts,” the foundation wrote, sharing that Samantha was a member of their board.

Instead of flowers, family members put together the fundraiser instead of flowers to help with funeral costs “and to support Nicholas and Lyla as they begin to navigate this unspeakable new journey.”

“In this complete and utter darkness, we pray that the sun will one day shine in our lives again.” According to Vanessa, as of Wednesday, the page had raised more than $117,000.

“We love you so much, Samantha,” the message continues. “You will live in her heart and our hearts forever.”

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