CARMICHAEL, Calif. (KCRA) — A Sacramento County family is mourning the death of 4-year-old Jer’Liyah Stevenson.
According to relatives, she died after her mother, Chardae Murphy, crashed into a tree in Carmichael on Thursday morning. Murphy is still recovering in the ICU at a local hospital.
“I just wish my baby could be here. I wish this didn’t happen,” said Cheri Chadwick.
Chadwick is Stevenson’s grandmother and Murphy’s mother. She said Murphy was driving back to her Fair Oaks home after dropping her other daughter off at John Barrett Middle School. According to Chadwick, her daughter passed another driver and that driver got mad and cut her off.
“This was not an accident. This was road rage. My daughter woke up and said that,” Chadwick said. “They pulled in front of her and kept antagonizing her, slamming on their brakes.”
Murphy crashed into a tree near the intersection of Winding Way and Dewey Drive.
Jennifer Dilly witnessed the aftermath of the crash while driving her daughter to school.
“My daughter said, ‘Mommy, I see a baby on the side of the road. Can we turn around please?’” Dilly said. “The car had been split into two.”
Dilly, a mother and sixth grade teacher, rushed to Jer’Liyah’s side. She stayed with her during her final moments.
“I just told her, ‘Baby, it’s OK. Just breathe honey, just breathe honey, it’s OK. We’re here to help,’” Dilly said.
The family is calling Dilly their angel as she stood by their side at the hospital Thursday evening.
Earlier in the afternoon, Chadwick said some family or friends went to Barrett Middle School in search of the other vehicle.
According to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, there was a fight in the school parking lot in the afternoon. The altercation led school officials to place the school on lockdown. Deputies cited three men for “battery on school grounds.”
Chadwick said they just desperately want answers.
“It’s killing me to know that my baby is gone,” she said. “She lost her life, 4 years old, vibrant — getting ready to start school. Now, she’s never going to go to school. She’s never going to do anything else.”
Chadwick said they are a family of current and former school bus drivers, including her daughter Murphy.
“Always safe driving,” she said. “She was dropping her daughter off, going back home, safely. I’m sure of it.”
Chadwick said that is why she is confident something caused her daughter to crash into a tree, and she is begging any witnesses to come forward.
The California Highway Patrol is also asking witnesses to come forward. According to Officer Greg Zumstein, they are on the lookout for the driver of a silver pickup truck.
However, the family said Thursday evening a green Jeep Cherokee was involved in the crash.
Zumstein said the CHP is still investigating.