Teen killed in Franklin County crash remembered by friends and family

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Tachina Smith (WTVD)

Family and friends went back to the Franklin County intersection to honor the life of a teen who died in a car crash after the driver she was riding with ran a stop sign.

The Highway Patrol said Tachina Smith, 18, of Zebulon, was riding in the back seat of a Toyota driven by Makel Breece, 18, headed north on Williams-White Rd. around 9 p.m. Saturday, when Breece ran a stop sign and collided with another car passing through the intersection going west on Pilot-Riley Road

Troopers said Smith was not wearing her seatbelt and was ejected from the car after impact. A neighbor said the car plowed through his fence and came to rest after hitting a tree. Smith died at the scene.

A wreck report shows a mother and son were in the second vehicle that was hit. Both they and another passenger in Breece's car were taken to WakeMed, but troopers said all were expected to recover. Troopers said Breece did not need to be taken to the hospital.

On Monday, Ladeisha Banks, who said she was best friends with Smith and a fellow freshman at UNC Pembroke, visited the crash site hours before a planned vigil there.

"I just wanted to see where she took her last breath," said Banks. "I just wanted to see where it all ended at."

Tiffany Smith, Tachina's mother, spoke to ABC11 Monday night.

Smith said her daughter, Tachina, was her bookworm. She was an honor student who graduated from Vernon Malone Career and College Academy in May and was a freshman at UNC Pembroke. Before leaving for college, Smith said her daughter wanted to work on becoming more outgoing.

Smith's family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with Tachina's funeral expenses. Click here to learn more or donate.

"China had just stepped out of her shell," said Smith, who lives in Zebulon. "What hurt so bad, she was so happy this weekend."

Some neighbors told ABC11 the intersection is known to be dangerous, and that drivers will disregard the stop signs on Williams-White Road and run them frequently even though traffic on Pilot-Riley Road does not stop.

"He's a good kid, it happened and I feel like if I hold a grudge, I'm not going to prosper from that," said Tiffany Smith. "I want him to know that I love him and I forgive him."

The two even hugged and cried together during Monday night's vigil at the crash site.

Troopers charged Breece with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and failing to stop at a stop sign.

"I just feel for him and his family because I know he didn't mean for that to happen," Banks said of Breece. "So I just hope he's OK."

Tiffany Smith said her daughter's funeral is scheduled for Saturday at noon at Haywood Funeral Home.

The NCDOT said it will evaluate the intersection to see if any changes need to be made, once the Highway Patrol completes its investigation.

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