Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Third woman dies before crash vigil in St. Petersburg

Thursday night, after his bath, the family struggled to tell a 5-year-old his mother would not be there to put him to bed. Friday morning the family met for a breakfast of grits, eggs and fish. A doctor's call interrupted, and they drove to the hospital to say goodbye.

Machines had kept Grace Collier, 25, alive since early Thursday after a car smashed into her and her two nieces, Briana Lequinda Campbell, 23, and Jamesia Chera Santoria, 21, as they left a nightclub in their car. Campbell and Santoria died in the fiery wreckage.

At the hospital, a doctor said Collier's brain recorded no activity, her kidneys had failed, and a tangle of tubes breathed for her. She was pronounced dead at 1:47 p.m. That meant two more children to be told their mom had died, one more cross for the vigil later Friday.

"We still haven't talked about who will take the kids," said Reginald Campbell, Briana Campbell's uncle. "We can give them everything in the world, but nothing will feel like a mother's hug."

Police said Friday evening that Marquice L. Anderson, 27, of St. Petersburg, drove the Chrysler that killed the women in a Saturn on the corner of 16th Street and Ninth Avenue S. Anderson has numerous arrests on drug charges, and was on probation at the time. Police were still looking for him late Friday.

"How can you hit someone and keep going and not acknowledge what you've done, and not even check that they're okay?" lamented the women's cousin, Sade Campbell. "I just feel like he's heartless."

The women had just left Club 1 South, a downtown night club, and so had Kendall Malcolm, who became an unwitting witness. Malcolm was driving on 16th Street after the club closed when a Chrysler raced past him headed south in the wrong lane.

Malcolm turned to his friend: "Those people are going to kill somebody."

Seconds later, the two saw smoke.

A woman's arms stuck out the window. And three men labored to pull her from the back window of the Saturn.

"I'm not sure if they were the driver of the other car or what," he said, "but I just know we kept hearing a guy saying 'You're gonna get fingerprints.' "

A crowd had gathered. The fire in the Saturn started small, but as it grew the three men backed up, blended with the crowd, and then they were gone.

Campbell and Santoria had been trapped in the car. They died at the scene. Collier was found 15 feet away. She had severe burns to her lower body and had internal injuries. Rescuers rushed her to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition.

Malcolm and his friend left shortly after firefighters arrived.

Police say the Chrysler smashed into the women as they turned into a parking lot near the intersection.

The Chrysler's driver has not been found. The car was empty when police arrived, with both the driver and passenger airbags deployed.

Police said the Chrysler's owner, a woman, was cooperating with investigators and had provided them with information about the last person to drive her car.

Thursday night was planned as a girls' night out, family said. All three worked hard to support their children.

Campbell worked as a dietary aide in a nursing home; Collier as a hairdresser; and Santoria worked at JCPenney and Wendy's, and studied at St. Petersburg College.

Santoria's son is 5. Collier's children are 2 and 6. Campbell has a 1-year-old son and 3-year-old twins, a boy and a girl.

"We still think it's a nightmare," Sade Campbell said, "like we'll wake up, and they'll pop up and it's all okay."

The family said the children were cheerful and playful Friday because they don't understand their mothers have died. While they told Santoria's 5-year-old son — although they doubt he understood — they planned to wait to tell the younger children.

At a vigil for the mothers Friday night, about 150 people gathered. All friends, the family said.

They passed plastic buckets for donations. A local DJ played a track of somber hits as some chose to cry in frustration and pain on the corner where the women died. Others danced a slow shuffle. A man hammered into the ground three white crosses. He stood back. And as the wind began to blow gray clouds to the street corner, the family knelt.

Contact Weston Phippen at wphippen@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8321. Follow @westonphippen.

Third woman dies before crash vigil in St. Petersburg 06/27/14 [Last modified: Friday, June 27, 2014 11:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  2. Take 2: Some fear Tampa Bay Next transportation plan is TBX redux

    Transportation

    TAMPA — For many, Wednesday's regional transportation meeting was a dose of deja vu.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its controversial Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. But the plan remains the same: spend $60 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area interstates that are currently free of tolls. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  3. Hailed as 'pioneers,' students from St. Petersburg High's first IB class return 30 years later

    Education

    ST. PETERSBURG — The students came from all over Pinellas County, some enduring hot bus rides to a school far from home. At first, they barely knew what to call themselves. All they knew was that they were in for a challenge.

    Class of 1987 alumni Devin Brown, from left, and D.J. Wagner, world history teacher Samuel Davis and 1987 graduate Milford Chavous chat at their table.
  4. Flower boxes on Fort Harrison in Clearwater to go, traffic pattern to stay

    Roads

    I travel Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater often and I've noticed that the travel lanes have been rerouted to allow for what looks like flower boxes that have been painted by children. There are also a few spaces that push the travel lane to the center that have no boxes. Is this a permanent travel lane now? It …

  5. Palm Harbor boat dealer facing litany of complaints of bad deals

    Business

    PALM HARBOR — With an aging father sick in the hospital and a son just graduating high school, Andrew Kashella, in between jobs, knew what he had to do.

    A sign on a front window of Gulf Coast Boat Sales, 37517 Us Highway 19 N, in Palm Harbor, notifies people they are under restructuring  The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has received 20 complaints against Gulf Coast Boat Sales in Palm Harbor. Complainants say they sold the shop their boats and never got paid and/or paid for boats they never received. Pinellas County Consumer Protection is leading the investigation.