AKRON, Ohio — An Akron mother was killed by a suspected drunk driver just minutes after she dropped off her daughter at a preschool Tuesday morning.
The family of 32-year-old TaShanna Junius is devastated by their sudden loss as they wait for charges to be filed against the suspect, a 35-year-old man.
Loved ones said Junius was a nurse, but took some time off to get her realtor's license. She was a Kent State graduate known for her cooking, sense of humor, and straightforward nature with people.
But above all, she loved being a mother to her 4-year-old daughter, Melrose.
"She was a mother first before anything. She did everything for her daughter," said her mother, Carletta Junius.
TaShanna's brother, Marcus Junius, considered his sister to be "my problem solver" and said she helped everyone she could.
"My sister was the most caring person. She was a person that always wanted to help," he said.
TaShanna's best friend, Iyisha Brown, said she lost someone who was beautiful, selfless and "the perfect friend."
"She was amazing. I've never met somebody as perfect as she was on this Earth. She was my role model," Brown said.
Family members said Tuesday morning started out like any normal day for TaShanna. Ring Camera surveillance video from her home shows her getting her daughter into a Kia Optima before making the short drive to school.
For the family, the video is a chilling reminder of how quickly life can change.
"It's just one of those things where you don't know when you're with her that you'll never see that person again," Carletta Junius said. "I feel like an out-of-body experience like you're looking at somebody else's life— like this is not happening."
According to Akron police, TaShanna was stopped at a red light in northbound traffic on Manchester Road at Wilbeth Road around 8:30 a.m.
Moments later, a man driving a Ford Taurus slammed into the victim's car, pushing into another vehicle which was also stopped at the light.
TaShanna was taken to Cleveland Clinic Akron General where she died. The other two drivers were not injured.
"You don't know what God's plan is. She was innocent—just sitting there waiting at the light— didn't know anything," Carletta Junius said.
Police believe the man who caused the crash was under the influence of drugs/alcohol and that speed was also a factor.
However, he has not been charged at this time, which bothers the victim's family.
"I don't understand how it could be no charges right now, but hopefully they do the right thing and get those charges filed because my sister didn't deserve what she got," said Marcus Junius.
Lt. Michael Miller said the driver will face charges after officers finish analyzing evidence.
Relatives said they are grateful that Melrose got out of the car shortly before the tragedy.
"If my niece was in that car, it would have been both of them," Marcus Junius said. "That's hard to imagine."
Through their heartaches, the family is now sending a strong message, urging people to stay sober when driving.
"Don't drink and drive. Don't get behind the wheel," Carletta Junius said.
Brown said what happened should also remind others that life is short and that choices matter.
"Consequences matter," she said. "All you have is time. Love the ones around you, please. You never know when they're gone."
The family has set up a GoFundMe for funeral expenses.
Watch live and local news any time:
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.
You can also catch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We're also on Amazon Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.