PAINESVILLE, Ohio -A weekend destined to be on the fun highlight reel of life ended in tragedy after a surprise birthday party in Indiana takes a shocking turn on the ride home for a Painesville family.
Denita Rice, 42, her 1-year-old son Bryson Rice and cousin Makayla Lanier, 12, were killed Sunday evening. Indiana State Police say a wrong-way driver crashed into their SUV, driven by Rice's husband, head on. It happened on an Indiana Toll Road near Mishawaka close to South Bend.
"Just look at him," said Rice's son DeAvoni Temnikar holding a large portrait of his baby brother slowly swaying side to side crying. "He brought joy to everybody, just wanted to play and laugh."
Temnikar's brother was robbed of a life full of love. Despite the mountain of sudden grief to overcome, the close-knit family says they are leaning on their faith for understanding.
"Makayla, she was just a good kid," said Melissa Jenkins in between sobs. "I believe that God, He chose three beautiful petals, Makayla she was a good kid."
Jenkins says her daughter was recently accepted into an honors program for math and on her way to 7th grade.
"For someone to call and tell me my baby is not coming home it kills me," cried Jenkins. "It destroys everything in me. I'm trying to keep it together."
Indiana State Police say the 32-year-old wrong way driver was also killed. They add that calls were received about an erratic driver in the eastbound lanes when the vehicle turned around and headed westbound.
At least two other vehicles were involved in crashes due to the wrong-way driver. Two other victims who survived were taken to the hospital.
One family member ahead of Rice's vehicle says she was able to avoid being hit, but now is living with the image of the crash she witnessed in her rear view mirror, before running down the toll road trying to free family Rice and the children from the mangled wreckage.
Family members created a GoFund Me for Makayla Lanier. If you wish to donate, click here.
A GoFundMe has also been set up to help the family of Denita and Bryson Rice. You can click here to visit that site.