One year after horrific deadly crash in Brighton, victim's family shares grief, gratefulness

Updated: November 27, 2020 06:15 PM
Created: November 27, 2020 12:17 PM

BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WHEC) — The family of a child killed in a horrific crash last November says even as challenges and grief are still present,  they are grateful for the support they've been shown.

On Nov. 27, 2019, nine-year-old Mila Ruangsuwana, a fourth-grader at French Road Elementary School, and her babysitter, 45-year-old Elmira Kamilevna Hall, died when a driver went off the road, hitting them while they were walking on the sidewalk along Edgewood Avenue. Mila's brother, Evan, was also hit by the car and was seriously hurt.

In a statement released Friday, Irina Statnikova and Rangsal Ruangsuwana reflected on the events of the last year. They say Evan has made progress, but not to the level they hoped, as they say, he cannot walk independently and is not speaking. In addition to those challenges, the family shared their grief, at times, has been "a remarkably isolating experience."

In February, police charged 20-year-old Ninoshka Vasquez-Ruiz with criminally negligent homicide and assault, Ruiz told police she fell asleep at the wheel.

The family did not mention Ruiz in their statement but did go on to express gratitude, including how people have continued to celebrate  Mila's life. They say, despite Evan's recovery not being where they thought it would, they are grateful for the "dedicated therapists" who are helping their son. The couple has a second daughter, Lilly, who was also at the crash scene but was not hurt, the parents say people have 'adopted' Lilly to help give her a pleasant childhood.

Additionally, the family is asking for people to make a donation in Mila's honor to a charity of your choice.

As for Hall, she left behind a daughter, Diana. People started a GoFundMe page last year to help support her, as of now, that fund stands at more than $43,000 raised, more than double the original goal.

You can view Irina and Rangsall's full statement below:

“Many people have been reaching out in recent weeks hoping for some good news. And while some things have improved, some have gotten harder. Unfortunately, this year has not brought as much progress for our little boy as we hoped and prayed for. His injuries were so devastating, that now at three years old he still has not caught up with the skills he had a year ago.  Despite his improvement over the past year, today he still does not walk independently, does not speak, and struggles to learn and retain new information. Every day we celebrate his achievements, while also mourning the loss of the life he was meant to have.
“Grief has no expiration date; it feeds itself on millions of daily reminders that go unnoticed by outsiders. It is also a remarkably isolating experience.  We lost friends in the past year, but also found some new ones. I am grateful to those who are not afraid to reach out, even if it is painful and scary, who can find the strength to just be present when there are no comforting updates. We are grateful to Mila's friends who remember and love her. To the many dedicated therapists and teachers working with Evan so that he continues to improve. To the wonderful teachers, coaches, and friends in the community who ‘adopted’ Lily this year and made sure that she has ‘happy’ childhood experiences —playdates, baking nights, birthday parties — in spite of everything that happened.
“To celebrate Mila’s life this holiday season, we are asking friends and family to make a donation in her honor to a charity or cause of their choosing. Knowing that Mila’s name is being spoken out loud and that her presence continues through acts of kindness is the best possible gift you can give us.
Irina Statnikova and Rangsal Ruangsuwana”

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