RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s been one year since a Richmond teenager was killed while crossing the street. 16-year-old Aajah Rosemond was hit by a car at the intersection of German School and Jahnke roads in 2020. Her family is now pushing for change to protect others.
Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic incident. Aajah’s mother and grandmother returned to the crash site to hang awareness signs and lay flowers. The intersection is home to a growing memorial where Aajah lost her life and is still vibrant 365 days later. It’s filled with balloons, flowers and pictures, but also serves an an important reminder for drivers to slow down and pay attention.
“It’s a reminder,” said Khrystal Bethea-Artis, Aajah’s mother. “I’m a reminder. The balloons are a reminder. Slow down, we’re walking here.”
The victim’s loved ones are turning to activism, telling 8News today it’s their family, but tomorrow it could be yours. Yesmine Bethea, Aajah’s grandma, says it doesn’t feel like a year has passed.
“It’s surreal because she’s really gone,” Bethea said. “She’s really gone.”
Remembering the free-spirited 16-year, friends and family held a special walk in Aajah’s honor on Sunday retracing her last steps. Bethea shared that Councilman Mike Jones was in attendance for the walk.
On October 18, 2020 Aajah was walking to a nearby store for a snack when two cars collided causing one to spin out and hit the teen in the crosswalk. Family tells 8News, the impact broke her neck.
“I was not aware that my daughter’s body was laying out here for two hours,” Bethea-Artis said. “So can we not create a hashtag when someone is effected or hurt in these accidents.”
Aajah’s mother and grandmother are pushing for new legislation like the Aajah Alert. It would be similar to an Amber Alert that would send out notifications to subscribers if a pedestrian is hit. They say it would help families be alerted a lot faster if there’s an issue. Bethea recalled not being able to get hold of her granddaughter and driving up and down the streets looking for her the day of the incident.
They’re also fighting for harsher penalties in traffic deaths.
“Here in the state of Virginia if you hit a person or a pole, if they live or if they die, it’s the same consequence. It’s minimal,” Bethea said. “The rush is never worth the risk.”
Bethea went on to say the man behind the wheel in her granddaughter’s case was ticketed and fined 200 dollars. She also says their family is working with Delegate Betsy Carr to change laws in the upcoming General Assembly session.
“It has impacted our lives beyond measure, beyond measure,” Bethea shared. “So with it happening to us and how it has impacted our life, we don’t want other people to feel what we felt. If we can make any difference that’s what we strive to do.”
Aajah’s loved ones are also in the process of trying to lower speed limits, creating billboard that project images of victims and several times a month they stand at the intersection holding signs urging drivers to slow down.