Crash Victim's Mom Visits Daughter's P.S. 115 Classmates
Five weeks after her daughter Attiyah died from injuries sustained in a rear-end collision, Dauna Hayes visited the first grade class at Public School 115 in which the six-year-old was enrolled for the current school year.
In an exclusive interview with the Canarsie Courier , Hayes said last Thursday when the new school year began it was "the hardest time" since the funeral on August 9.
"Attiyah was looking forward to going back to school this year," Hayes said. "All summer she was excited and talking about starting the first grade in September."
The grieving 32-year-old mother, who displayed remarkable composure in discussing the loss of her oldest child, said she was surprised and never realized how many students - her daughter's age and older - teachers and staff, including the safety officer at the front desk, Attiyah got to know during her year in kindergarten.
Last week, P.S. 115 principal Mitch Pinsky invited Hayes to meet and talk to the students in Class 1-106, in which her daughter was scheduled to be in.
One school staffer said, "Attiyah was so full of life...a very happy girl. She always said 'good morning' to everyone each day." She also noted that the little girl was named the school's student of the month last May.
Pinsky, who said he was honored when he was invited to speak at the funeral service held at the Cavalry Unified Freewill Baptist Church in Brownsville, echoed the sentiment he made at the funeral, "(Attiyah) was bright and energetic. She is in our hearts."
Hayes recounted a day last winter as an example of her daughter's disappointment if she thought she was going to miss a day of school. She said she was ailing with a severe cold but struggled to get out of her sick bed to take Attiyah to school after the youngster pleaded with her.
Hayes, a captain and nine-year-New York City Department of Corrections veteran, was driving Attiyah and the girl's two-year-old sister, Janiyah, home in her 1996 Infiniti last July 30. While stopped at a red light at East 58th Street and Flatlands Avenue, an allegedly speeding Toyota Land Cruiser, driven by a 19-year-old Philadelphia man, struck her car from behind with such force it was pushed into a 1991 Chevy in front of it.
Hayes said the impact of the collision caused the rear end of her sedan to be "crushed like an accordion" trapping the children seated in the back. The frantic mother gradually got out and removed the two-year-old, but because of the extensive damage to the side where Attiyah was, she could not get her out even with the help of passersby.
When firefighters arrived, they had to pry the unconscious six-year-old from the back seat before she was rushed to Brookdale Hospital where she succumbed to massive injuries three days later.
In the eulogy, Dauna Hayes said her daughter loved to sing and dance, wanted to be a doctor and learned to carry herself as "a beautiful black girl."
"Attiyah was a special child from the time she was born...she was herself at all times, no matter what, she never changed...She touched the hearts of many."