OAK RIDGE, N.C. (WGHP) — A mother is pleading with drivers to pay attention when they get on the roads next week on Halloween.
This holiday on a day that’s supposed to be full of fun, a mother will be remembering her daughter, Aliyah Thornhill, who died one year ago while trick-or-treating in Oak Ridge. Two children have gotten hit and killed in the area since 2019.
The mothers don’t want to see it happen again this year. That’s why Thornhill’s mom, Ayonna Suttles, is urging parents to make sure their kids are wearing something reflective or bright colored and urging drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
“It’s just still hard to believe,” said Suttles. “There’s still some days that I say that I can’t believe that this is my life. I can’t believe that my baby is no longer here.”
October 31, 2022, started off as a good day for 14-year-old Aliyah Thornhill and her mom.
“Me and Aliyah were living our best life and then tragedy struck us,” said Suttles.
It’s been nearly one year since an SUV struck and killed Thornhill along Haw River Road in Oak Ridge while she was trick-or-treating Halloween night with a friend.
“Here I am coming up on the year since the last time I was able to kiss her and touch her and laugh with her and joke with her,” said Suttles.
In the year since the accident, not much has changed along the road. Town leaders did add a permanent digital radar sign to help slow drivers down as they approach the more residential area of the road. The mayor said they won’t have data to release until the sign has been up for three months but it seems to be working so far.
Even though speed was not a factor in the crash that killed Thornhill, her mom is glad something is being done to make the road safer.
“I’m happy to know that there are some implementations in place that you know will help drivers remain aware this holiday season,” she said.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrians. Twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year.
Three years before Thornhill’s death, Noah Chambers, 11, was hit and killed while crossing the street at a trunk-or-treat event on the same road.
Suttles hopes drivers will remember these stories this year before getting on the roads Halloween night.
“If you’re not aware any other time of the year, make Halloween the day that you say I’m going to pay attention because I would hate for this to happen to me,” she said. “I would hate to be in her shoes. I would hate to be in Noah’s mom’s shoes, you know, because we’re still living this tragedy, this nightmare over and over and over and over again.”
Suttles told FOX8 that Halloween was one of Thornhill’s favorite holidays. By next year, she hopes to honor her daughter by starting Aliyah’s Attic where people will donate clothes to give away to kids free of charge.