Remembering Amiyah and YesterdayCommunity mourns loss of two girls killed in car crash
Carrying candles and balloons, nearly 100 people gathered in darkness last week on the beach in Mukilteo to celebrate the lives of two girls killed in a car crash a week earlier on Interstate 5 in Lynnwood.
“This is a testament that we have to cherish life,” Ronald Savyon Wallace told a huddled crowd of children, parents, teachers and family friends.
Wallace’s 2-year-old daughter, Yesterday Wallace, and his 12-year-old niece, Amiyah Johnson, were killed Feb. 3 in a three-car collision on northbound I-5, just south of the 164th Street SW overpass.
When students at Olympic View Middle School in Mukilteo returned to school Wednesday, Feb. 8, many wore purple in honor of Amiyah, who had been a sixth-grader there.
Teacher Steve Smith brought two framed photos of his former student and set up stations in his classroom and the main office where students could write messages of love and support to Amiyah’s family on small sheets of paper. Several hundred students took part.
Jacqueline wrote, “She was loved by everyone.” Danielle wrote, “I know you are no longer here anymore, but you will always be in my heart.” Lora wrote, “You were loved by all of the people in OV.” Brianna wrote, “She was so sweet and a great friend.”
Bailey wrote, “Amiyah is in a better place now where nothing will hurt and nothing will go wrong.” Ali wrote, “She was the nicest person ever. She would always cheer me up if I was sad. She was also shy, but sweet. She will always be in our hearts.”
While Wallace and Yesterday’s mother, Emily Dick, and others worked to organize the girls’ burial and a celebration of life, Amiyah’s mother, Melissa Dick, stayed at Harborview Medical Center with her two sons – 7-year-old Jo Deutong and 5-year-old Marcus Deutong – who also had been in the van and were injured in the crash.
“I’ve basically been living at the hospital,” Melissa Dick said. “I feel like I can’t do anything but focus on the boys right now. I feel like Amiyah and Yesterday are giving me strength to take care of the boys.”
Crash under investigation
Jo Deutong suffered a broken leg and has undergone emergency bladder surgery. His brother suffered a shattered pelvis and two broken legs.
Although rescuers performed CPR, Amiyah was pronounced dead at the scene. Yesterday was transported to Harborview Medical Center where she was revived multiple times, but died after surgery at 9:20 p.m.
Melissa Dick and Danny Ivy, who had been driving, were taken to Providence Hospital in Everett with injuries.
“I was unconscious after the accident, so I don’t remember anything about it,” Melissa Dick said. “When I woke up, a woman was holding my hand. I remember being very scared, and I could hear my sons crying.”
The three-car crash occurred shortly after 3:15 p.m. and caused a 9-mile backup. Yesterday and Amiyah were sitting together in the middle back seat of a 2000 Nissan Quest minivan driven by 43-year-old Danny Ivy, according to the Washington State Patrol. The van was following a 2006 Chrysler 3000 driven by 52-year-old Elizabeth Abuan.
When both slowed for traffic, a Ford F250 pickup driven by 51-year-old Todd Brown of Marysville rear-ended the van, pushing it into the Chrysler. Neither Brown nor Abuan was injured.
Trooper Eric Stubrud is investigating the crash. He said he’s compiling reports from various emergency responders, and waiting on the results of a voluntary blood draw from Brown. The investigation could take as long as a month to complete, after which any potential charging recommendations will be forwarded to the county prosecutor’s office, he said.
Remembering Amiyah and Yesterday
Melissa Dick said the family has moved around a lot in the last few years, but that never kept Amiyah from making friends.
“She made friends everywhere we went,” she said.
In the spring of 2016, they moved into the Axis Apartment Homes between Hwy. 99 and Airport Road near Lake Stickney.
“We’re a very close family,” she said, noting that she also has two daughters who attend Mariner High School, but Amiyah was particularly close with her cousin. “She was always playing with Yesterday and making her laugh. They always had a lot of fun together.”
In September, Yesterday and Amiyah celebrated their birthdays together with family, Melissa Dick said.
“Yesterday and Amiyah were really close,” she said. “I know that they are in heaven together looking down on us.”
Melissa’s sister Emily Dick said Yesterday would spend time with Melissa’s family when she was at work.
“She never wanted to leave,” Emily said. “She loved her cousins so much. I’m glad that she was at least with her family and people who loved her so much.”
Both girls were a light in the lives of those who knew them, Emily said.
“My daughter was learning her ABCs and could count to 20,” she said. “She loved everybody. She would constantly blow kisses to everyone. And Amiyah was like the glue that held the family together. She was the sweetest, brightest little girl and so funny, always telling jokes.”
Melissa said Amiyah was a compassionate girl who particularly loved being with family.
“Amiyah is the most loving, enthusiastic girl,” Melissa said. “She loved her brothers, and was always coming up with games to play with them. She was really caring. She liked to draw, and would write me poems and letters. She was also good at sports. Her passion for a long time was basketball.”
Soon after Emily met Wallace in November 2013, he began coaching Amiyah’s basketball team through the Boys and Girls Club.
“I started coaching Amiyah when she was in third grade,” he said. “She was so easy to coach. She always worked hard to get better and improve.”
When the season ended, Wallace decided to keep up the momentum by creating his own nonprofit girls’ basketball program.
“Amiyah was a huge part of that,” Emily said. “She was the whole reason we started the program. We wanted to bring in kids who couldn’t afford it otherwise.”
Called the Queen Supremes, the program aims to give low-income girls ages 9-14 an opportunity to play basketball and bond with each other, Wallace said.
“Our program is a family,” he said. “We have cookouts, we go camping, we spend time together. And we don’t make any money off of it.
“A lot of these programs charge a lot of money. We just charge the parents the cost of uniforms and the cost of the tournaments.”
Wallace said Amiyah taught him how to be a better coach to young girls.
“I built her confidence as a basketball player and as a person, but she showed me that it’s ok to be soft and have fun,” he said. “Amiyah taught me it’s OK to goof around sometimes. She softened me up a bit. She made me a better coach for the rest of the girls.”
The program was on hiatus in 2016, but Wallace said he’s committed to keeping it alive in Amiyah’s memory.
“I have so many good memories with these girls,” he said. “I have decided that I have to continue this program, for her.”