‘Pure and innocent’: Family and friends remember 5-year-old killed in Sussex crash


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — She could brighten up anyone’s day — that’s how a family friend described five-year-old Christina Parham.

State Police said Parham was killed in a head-on crash Wednesday morning in Sussex County by a driver running from the law. The other two people in the car with the young girl were also hurt.

“Its been a nightmare,” said family friend Dionne Lee. “She was everything pure and innocent in a beautiful child.” 

Lee told 8News Parham was on spring break enjoying an outing with relatives.

“Getting the kids together to go out for just some fun,” said Lee.

But that outing turned tragic early Wednesday morning after a police chase ended in a fiery crash along Route 681 in Sussex County. Virginia State Police said Parham was inside the car struck head-on.

Lee told 8News the young victim’s mother is now reeling.”She is beyond hurting,” said Lee.

Despite being just five-years-old, family friends say Parham had a maturity about her — loving books and going to church.

“She wanted to make sure everyone would make it into heaven and that’s the type of little girl we are talking about,” said Lee.

As those who love her plan a memorial in her honor, Lee believes the young girl is looking down on them.

“Baby girl I know you are our angel shining down on us and we are gonna stick together and we’re gonna be alright,” said Lee.

8News learned that Parham was a kindergartener at Ettrick Elementary School. The school’s principal shared a statement with the families of Parham’s classmates after her death:

“This is Dr. Smith, calling to share sad news. Recently we’ve learned of the death of a kindergarten student, Christina Parham.  Her family has shared the news with our school administration and the family is also responding to media inquiries so you may hear or see more on the local news.  Please prepare your child with this news and let us know if you have any concerns.  When students come back to school next week, we can potentially expect probing questions about illness and death. Sensitivity to your child’s reaction to this difficult situation is critical. The school’s student support staff will be available to help students who need to talk. In addition, a flyer (Tips to help grieving children.pdf ) has been attached to this phone message’s corresponding email that provides parents help to discuss grief and the associated reactions with children. We encourage our parents and community to continue to provide support to our students in the coming days.  Ettrick Elementary will continue to support its students, staff, and community. If we can be of additional help to you or your student, please let us know.”

The man accused of running from police and hitting that car head-on, 29-year-old Toriando Smith, is facing charges including involuntary manslaughter.

State Police say more charges could be coming.

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