Community mourns loss of 13-year-old killed in pileup on Hwy 190
WHITE CASTLE - The community gathered Wednesday night to honor the life of a teenager who was killed in a car crash Tuesday morning.
A 15-car-pileup claimed the life of 13-year-old Janaria James on the old Mississippi River Bridge on US 190.
The tragic incident brought hundreds of people together Wednesday night at the White Castle Community Center as loved ones held a vigil and balloon release for the teen.
Emotions were high and hearts were heavy, but everyone agreed that Janaria's nickname "sunshine" held true.
"I think she had that nickname because she was always a bright person as everyone saw her," Jaylen Lewis said about his friend.
Janaria's friends say she was admired by everyone who got the chance to meet her, which explains the huge turnout at the memorial. Everyone had nothing but wonderful things to say about the young girl.
"She was a really sweet person. She didn't bother anybody. I just feel like she didn't deserve it," Malika Lewis said about her friend.
Janaria was a friend to everyone and stood up for what was right.
"I was a new student. I came from North Carolina and she was always the one to tell students to stop bullying me because I always talked proper at the school and she really did mean a lot to me," Jaylen Lewis said.
Janaria was protective, just like her older brother Jatyraun. With just 2 years between them, Jaytraun says one thing he'll miss the most about his little sister is her cheering him on both on and off the basketball court.
He says the deadly crash was the one moment he wishes he were there to protect her the most.
"I don't believe it. I don't believe it until I see it Tuesday when the funeral is. I gotta be strong for my mama. They're crying. I've been crying but I don't wanna show them, I gotta be tough for them," Jaytraun James said.
Like most of Janaria's loved ones, Jaytraun is devastated by the news and is still trying to process it.
The hour-long vigil was full of sharing happy memories and prayers, keeping the mood and spirits up in the way that Janaria would have wanted.
To end the night, each attendee released a balloon in her honor.
When her friends and family were asked what they would say to Janaria if they could talk to her one last time, they all said the same thing.
"I'm gonna always love you and I miss you," her older brother Jaytraun said.
"You're going to be missed a lot. Everyone came out here today to show their love and support. I love you and everything I do is for you," her friend Malika said.
And while the community mourns this loss, officials say before they can implement any additional safety measures or signage for drivers in the stretch where the deadly crash occurred, they will have to further investigate the incident.
Witnesses of the crash say those modifications can't come soon enough.
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