What was supposed to be the beginning of a new chapter for a 9-year-old girl named Payton Crustner turned into a tragedy that took her life.Payton was starting fourth grade, so her family thought a photo of her holding a sign with the date and the message “1st Day of 4 Grade” written on it would be appropriate. Payton was beaming as she posed, unaware that her life would be cut short minutes later.
Unfortunately, this lovely young lady did not make it to class because she and her family were killed in a car accident on their way to school. While Payton’s mother, Miranda, 32, was driving the car, 18-year-old Marcus Wayne Dukes was driving on the highway when he turned left and veered into oncoming traffic. Payton was thrown out of the vehicle during the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The other passengers, including Miranda and a 3-year-old girl whose identity had not been revealed, were only slightly injured. Miranda’s son was critically ill but was eventually discharged from the hospital. He, like the 3-year-old, was not wearing a seat belt. Miranda was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, as was Payton, but hers was a lower belt that failed to keep her safely strapped in.
A member of the bereaved family started a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses, which raised nearly $18,000. “Payton Lynn Crustner, 9 years old, was taken from this world this morning before her first day of 4th grade, please keep this family in your prayers,” read the post.We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss, which serves as a reminder of the importance of wearing a seat belt, the most important safety feature in a car.