CLEVELAND (WJW) — She is being remembered for her vibrant smile. On Friday night, loved ones paid tribute to a 21-year-old woman, killed when a stolen Kia smashed into the car she was riding in, police said.
Her family held a vigil at the scene of the horrific crash.
Several dozen relatives, friends and neighbors, many holding pink and white balloons, held a vigil at the spot where Janet Reyes lost her life.
Her sister Leslie said she was always the life of the party.
“She was a wonderful girl — very sweet, kind. … It’s hard to describe in these moments, but she was amazing, beautiful. Beautiful smile. I loved my sister’s smile,” said Leslie.
At about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Janet Reyes, known as “Jay” by family and friends, was the passenger in a white car being driven by her friend.
Near the intersection of Pearl and Altoona roads on Cleveland’s west side, a stolen Kia with several young men inside slammed into the car and overturned.
“I was laying on my bed watching TV and all of a sudden I heard a ‘boom,'” said neighbor Teresa Navaline.
A woman who lives down the street said the scene looked bad when she walked over to see what happened.
“I seen the black Kia on the hood, on its hood, and the white car in the way they showed it in the picture on TV, up against the wall,” she said. “I seen a kid from the Kia, he was laying on the ground, then they pulled the guy out the car and the cop was holding … he said ‘gun, gun’ and the cop was holding up a gun like that.”
“A life has been involved and taken away from us so soon. … I believe something deserves to be done to get this situation under control or at least to never happen to anyone else,” said Leslie.
Janet’s friend who was driving was critically injured. Several people in the Kia were hurt too. Police said a 9-year-old boy was also seriously injured in the incident.
“Something should happen to get these ‘Kia Boys’ under control,” said Leslie.
Police union president Jeff Follmer told FOX 8 News that officers were not in pursuit of the Kia at the time of the crash. But he said a cruiser with lights and sirens was headed to another call, and it is possible the driver of the stolen Kia sped off, thinking police were in pursuit.
“It doesn’t deserve to be left the way it was left,” Leslie told FOX 8 News earlier on Friday.
As a memorial grew at the site, Leslie and her boyfriend came to remove leftover car parts, mixed among the flowers, to have it suitable for Friday night’s vigil.
“The innocent die, 21 years old. She was just starting to live her life,” said neighbor Navaline.
A GoFundMe campaign was set up to support her family.
FOX 8 News reached out to Cleveland police to get updated conditions on the people taken to the hospital, and whether anyone in the stolen Kia was arrested or charged.
As of Friday evening, we have not heard back from them.