NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach CountyWest Palm Beach

Actions

Christmas Eve brings heartbreak for family of school bus crash victim

Posted at 4:43 PM, Dec 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-24 18:56:31-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In the past, Christmas Eve has been a day filled with joy and memories for a family in West Palm Beach. But this year, the holidays are filled with heartbreak.

"I just wish she was here," said Dumar Ellis, the uncle of 15-year-old Natasha Dwyer.

For Natasha's family, Christmas will never be the same again. The teen was hit and killed by a school bus last week while walking to her bus stop.

"I didn’t get the chance to tell her goodbye," said Latoya Jackson, Natasha’s mother.

Jackson celebrated what should have be her daughter’s Sweet 16 birthday on Tuesday by visiting a growing memorial less than a block from her home at the corner of Haverhill and Elmhurst Roads in West Palm Beach. It’s become a place of comfort, and a place to tell Natasha she misses and loves her.

Friends also decorated a post at the memorial with Natasha’s favorite colored ribbons and balloons for her birthday.

"It makes me feel good, like she is important because this is something she would have wanted," Jackson said.

Following last week's crash, Natasha was rushed to the hospital, where she died. She was a sophomore at Inlet Grove Community High School in Riviera Beach, with dreams of becoming a nurse.

"I don’t think it’s going to be like Christmas anymore, just more a Natasha celebration each year because this doesn’t feel right having the holidays without her," Ellis said.

Natasha’s family is now calling for crossing guards for all high school students, and Jackson is making pedestrian safety her new mission.

"To enforce that people will get off their cell phone, stop texting and driving, pay more attention to the road and pedestrians," Jackson said.

Natasha’s family will have a cake for her birthday on Tuesday night. Then, loved one and friends will release 16 lanterns into the air Friday during a celebration of life, and a memorial service will be held Saturday in Royal Palm Beach.

If you would like to help the family with funeral expenses, click here.