CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Family members held a vigil Sunday night in Chesapeake for 17-year-old Taniya Basnight, who was killed in a car accident Tuesday.
Police have charged 28-year-old Tyler Grant with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the crash on the corner of Campostella Road and Battlefield Boulevard. Investigators say he ran a red light and smashed into the vehicle she was in.
Her mother, Whitney Basnight-Coleman, says Taniya’s younger siblings give her strength as she mourns the loss of her firstborn.
“They feed off of my energy and they still need me and they’re hurting also,” she said. “So, that’s my biggest source of strength knowing that I have to still keep going for them.”
Her family says Taniya, or Niya as they called her, graduated high school at 16 and was enrolled at Norfolk State University at the time of her death.
Her grandfather, Lorenzo Pierce, says he wishes he could just see her walk through their door again.
“Just to hear her voice tell me again, ‘Grandad, it’s going to be alright.’ It breaks my heart. This really breaks my heart,” he said.
Taniya’s grandmother, Pat Pierce, says her family says this angel with an infectious smile will never be forgotten.
“She was always my angel. She was always my angel and now she’s my real angel,” she said.
Pierce says she’ll always remember Taniya as a jokester with a quick wit who had a bright future ahead of her.
“She left me a note on my bed for my birthday and it said, ‘I love you to the moon and back.’ And I love her the same way,” she said.
Chesapeake police say alcohol could have played a factor in the accident.
Her family is just pleading for people to think twice about their actions while behind the wheel.
“And not just with drinking and driving but just in so many different situations, just think about your actions and the potential consequences and think it through,” said Basnight-Coleman. “You took a 17-year-old child from life.”
Taniya’s family says the other two passengers who were in the car at the time of the accident are doing OK.
They want to thank everyone in the community for the outpouring of support they’ve received.