CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A Chesapeake mother and her 3-year-old daughter are being remembered after a large tree branch fell on the two while they were walking in West Virginia, killing them both.
The daughter died six days before her 4th birthday.
Family members say 26-year-old Amyethst Russell and her daughter, Ariana, were inseparable. They say the two will be remembered for the joy they gave to others.
3-year-old Ariana Gerber just can’t help but put a smile on your face. Her grandpa Albert Russell says whether she was singing karaoke, dancing or playing on the playground where they lived.
“She put her heart into it and you never knew what she was going to say.”
“I’d say see those stars, they’re like little sprinkles in the sky and she’d say, ‘no they’re not, Pop Pop,’ they’re like the sun,’ and I’d say, ‘how do you know, you’re only 3 years old,” Albert said.
Albert didn’t know this trip to see family in West Virginia would be their last.
“I gave Amethyst a hug and told her I loved her,” said Albert. “I told Ari I loved her and to be safe and she said ‘I love you Pop Pop, you’re the best Pop Pop ever,’ and that was the last words I heard from Ari.”
Family members tell 10 On Your Side that Amyethst, who also went by Amy, was walking with her daughter, Ari, on a trail when the branch fell.
“Everybody, even I walked that road hundreds of times,” said Albert, speaking about the trail near Amy’s mom’s house.
“We’ve been walking on the trails most of our lives here and I never in my life even heard of something like this happening,” said Amy’s mom, Karen. “It was horrible.”
Karen says the two were walking along Slate Dump Hill Road in Leslie, WV with other family members when it happened.
“I thought it was all a joke until I saw them then I started CPR on my granddaughter,” said Karen. “I was afraid to touch my daughter, she had blood everywhere.”
Albert and Karen say so many people have reached out to them saying Amy saved their life.
“She was a real giving person, we’ve got messages from people saying that if it wasn’t for her, they wouldn’t be here,” Karen said.
“She’s just one of those people who was always out there for everyone else,” Albert said.
Amy graduated from Tidewater Community College in 2020 with an associate’s degree in applied science.
“She wanted to get a job and make her daughter proud,” said Albert.
Albert says she was always putting her daughter first, even in their final moments.
“She tried to push her daughter out of the way, but couldn’t do it,” said Albert. “They were always together. My granddaughter would say something and my daughter would say ‘God I love that baby so much.'”
“The next goodbye may be the last,” said Albert reminding residents to hold their loved ones close.
Amy and Ariana were buried together in West Virginia over the weekend and family members are working to pay for their funerals right now.
If you’d like to help, they’re asking for donations to go straight to the funeral home.