Girl, 13, mourns loss of mother taken in hit-and-run crash - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Girl, 13, mourns loss of mother taken in hit-and-run crash

Couple killed in crash Couple killed in crash
Savannah Walters and her mother, Elle Savannah Walters and her mother, Elle

If you don't know what it's like to lose your mom at the age of 13, ask Savannah Walters.

"I'd wake up, she was there," said the teen. "Went to sleep, she was there. It's weird not having a good morning. She was always that other part of me. And now I'll never see her again."

Savannah's dad is now caring for her and her 17-year-old brother, Joseph. Savannah's father gave KCTV5 permission to talk with Savannah about the death of her mother, Elle Walters, and her high school sweetheart she began dating again less than three years ago.

"If you do something bad, you need to get punished," said Savannah. "You can't just get away with it. That's just not right."

Prosecutors recently charged a man, but he is not in custody. Police say they are searching for the hit-and-run driver.

It was 2:41 a.m. on Aug. 11. Walters and her boyfriend, Ty Salistean, had left a marketing event that Walters had supervised with Salistean driving. A white Chevy Cruz broad-sided the couple's car at the intersection of 31st Street and Euclid Avenue.

The driver of that car took off running, leaving his passenger trapped in the car. The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office has charged 21-year-old Tarey Johnson with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count of assault in connection with the injury of his passenger and one count of leaving the scene of an accident.

"To just run, like, how cowardly is that?" Savannah asked with her jaw clenched tight in resentment. "I mean, if I ever hurt someone, even if it was just a scratch, I would make sure they were OK, and he just ran away. It's not OK."

He was charged last week but still has not been located for arrest.

Johnson's passenger later told police they were racing another car that went through the intersection ahead of them. Black box data showed the Cruz going 63 mph with the accelerator applied 100 percent. The victims' car was going 31, with zero percent acceleration.

Savannah says her mother's boyfriend had become like a father to her.

"Ty, he was always really fun. He loved to play games. He was like a little kid, but he was an adult," she said. "And I liked him a lot. It made me happy that my mom was happy."

But the bond with her mom was the one that was beyond compare, and beyond the usual mother-daughter connection, because of a struggle that began before her mother's death.

"She really was my best friend in the whole entire world. She stayed by me through everything. When I felt like I had no one in the whole world, she was there," she said. "I could always just talk to her about whatever and she wouldn't judge me or try to give me advice or anything. She would just listen."

Her heartbroken daughter said she now lives for her mother.

Salistean also had a 10-year-old son, Trey.

Savannah is hoping that sharing her thoughts and feelings will prompt someone to call police about where the suspect is so that, if a judge or jury finds him guilty, he will be held accountable.

If you have any information, call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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