ELIZABETH CITY, NC (WVEC) -- Loved ones are reflecting on the lives of the two employees killed in Thursday's attempted prison escape.
35-year-old Justin Smith worked as a correctional officer since 2012, and 50-year-old Veronica Darden was a Correction Enterprises Manager who oversaw inmates working in the specialty sewing plant, where the fire started.
Darden's mother, Aubrey Moore, said Veronica was called "Ronnie" by those who knew her. Darden had five siblings and a 21-year-old daughter.
"She was just my angel," said Moore. "My best friend."
Moore described Darden as "very sassy," someone who "loved life" and was "incredibly hardworking."
"She cherished that job," said Moore. "She loved it. I never heard her complain about getting up in the morning, early in the morning going to work."
Rita Weiner, neighbor of Justin Smith, said they were nervous when they learned of the attempted prison escape.
"When we found out, the first thing I thought of was our neighbors," said Weiner. "I said, 'Oh my God,' and we prayed."
"He is one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet," said Smith. "I cant even tell you: he was pleasant to be around, soft spoken, nice guy."
13News Now spoke with Smith's girlfriend, Amber Moore. Moore said Smith "would do anything for anyone, even the inmates."
Family members of Justin Smith said they didn't want to release a statement until they received all of the information regarding the attack.
© 2017 WVEC-TV