Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Baby from Tampa crash that killed mother has Down syndrome

TAMPA — When Olga Valentin learned the baby growing inside her had Down syndrome, she cried and cried.

Soon, though, the 27-year-old came to regard little Nevaeh Pierce, born Oct. 1, as a blessing.

"She felt that God gave her this baby for a reason," said Valentin's sister, Sheila Mendez.

Early Monday, as Valentin drove across Hillsborough County to show off 6-month-old Nevaeh to a friend, she lost control of her car.

It flipped several times on State Road 60, near U.S. 301, threw her from it and landed atop her. Valentin died.

The baby was left with only scratches. Nevaeh had been buckled into a child safety seat in the back, authorities said — but Valentin had neglected to wear her own seat belt.

The infant is now with her father's sister in Mulberry.

That's because the father, 39-year-old Vidall Pierce, who is registered sex offender, is in the Pinellas County Jail facing charges of violating his probation on previous drug and bad check counts.

He called Valentin's family on Tuesday to say he hopes to care for the baby when he gets out of jail, Mendez said.

On Tuesday, family and friends gathered at the Tampa home of Valentin's mother and shared memories of an outgoing woman who seemed fearless.

She'd happily try anything once, whether it was water skiing or ice skating, Mendez said.

Valentin had attended Chamberlain High School and was living in Mulberry in Polk County.

She has two other young children — a girl and boy, who live with their father in Orlando.

At age 19, Mendez is Valentin's youngest sister. There is another sister and a brother.

"I loved my sister," Mendez said Tuesday. "We had just started getting close and spending time together."

They'd go swimming and visiting parks. When Mendez learned her big sister was pregnant again, she was so excited.

"It just brought so much joy to our lives," she said.

The family isn't sure why Valentin lost control of her car. Maybe it was bad judgment, maybe a fluke accident.

But they are sure of one thing, Mendez said. They plan to stay in baby Nevaeh's life, wherever she ends up living.

"Nevaeh is just like her mom: very outgoing," Mendez said. "She loves to talk, even though she can't really say words. She just likes you to hear her vocal cords."

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Baby from Tampa crash that killed mother has Down syndrome 04/02/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 10:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics

    Elections

    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.