FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The mothers of two teens involved in an early Sunday morning fatal hit and run spoke out for the first time since the incident via Zoom. Rheannon Lee and Paola Jimenez both say they want justice for their children.
“It’s a mother’s worse nightmare, and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” Jimenez said. “It’s sad that we lost a beautiful soul.”
Earlier Sunday morning Samayah Barker, 17, and Benny Jimenez, 16, were heading home from a birthday party with friends when the car they were riding in was hit by a truck at the Lafayette, McKinnie, and Clinton Street intersection.
Witness say two people from the other vehicle left the scene.
Samayah Barker died at the scene while Benny Jimenez and the other two passengers were taken to an area hospital. Benny is still in the hospital recovering from surgery, and he has no memories of the crash or that Samayah Barker is gone.
“It’s so heartbreaking,” Paola Jimenez said. “I’m hurting for my son.”
The pair was dating, and friends and family say they were made for each other. Where one went the other was sure to be there too.
Rheannon Lee told WANE 15 that her daughter was was best known for her big hair, big lashes, big nails and an even bigger personality. Rheannon Lee said that the teen was a peacemaker who was kind to everyone she met and was always a phone call away.
“Something about her was just magical,” Rheannon Lee said. “She’d walk into a room it just lit up. Its unbelievable. It hasn’t sunk in. I keep waiting for her to say, come to Benny’s and pick me up. Let’s go get taco. It’s not real right now.”
Even though Rheannon Lee just lost her daughter during the interview she repeatedly expressed concerns for her daughter’s and Benny’s friends grieving with the crash. She told WANE 15 that she had no energy to be upset and continue to share Remedy Live’s information, a resource that allows those struggling to talk with a live person 24/7.
“You’re not alone,” Rheannon Lee said. “You don’t even have to call. Just text ‘remedy’ to 49 49 49 and talk to someone or go on their website.”
The mothers say they are at different phases of grief. However, both agree they want justice for their kids and for the people involved in the crash to come forward.
“To me right now it was an accident and I think that maybe they are scared or nervous or whatever,” Lee said. “Our family needs answers and their families are going to need time to deal with the consequences.”
“It’s not right what they did,” Paola Jimenez said. “Wrong is wrong. Own up to what you did.”
April 10 at 8 p.m. family and friends will gather in Berne at the clock tower to hold a vigil.
A GoFundMe* page has also been started to help pay for Samayah’s funeral.
If you have any information about the two people that ran from the crash you are asked to call the Fort Wayne Police Department detective bureau at 260-427-1201.
**WANE.com does not assure that the monies or donations deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a donation, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.