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Virginia mom mourns her daughter after the car she was in hits a train: 'She was just getting started'

Posted at 3:06 PM, Aug 07, 2023

BERRYVILLE, Va. — Haidan Smallwood's life was just getting started when it ended suddenly, and unexpectedly, according to her mother Nina.

The 18-year-old recent graduate of Clarke County High School was killed just after midnight on Wednesday, August 2, when the car she was in crashed into a train on Route 17 in Fauquier County, about 30 minutes from her family's Berryville home.

"She was on her way to the beach with her boyfriend who was driving," Haidan's mother Nina Pierce said.

Haidan Smallwood and Nina Pierce
Haidan Smallwood and her mother

While the crash remains under investigation, Virginia State Police said the car that Haidan, her boyfriend, and a third person were in had been reported stolen.

A spokesperson for the Fauquier County Sheriff's Office said one of its deputies clocked the 2015 Honda Accord at 97 mph in a 55 mph zone.

"The deputy, who was traveling southbound, crossed the median and activated his emergency equipment attempting to stop the vehicle for a speeding violation. Due to the driver’s high speeds, the Deputy did not catch up to vehicle until the area of O’Bannon Road, where the driver failed to stop for a second deputy who had joined the pursuit and activated his emergency equipment. The driver continued north toward Marshall, Virginia, however, the pursuing deputy slowed down approaching the village, lost sight of the vehicle, and terminated his pursuit," the Fauquier County Sheriff's Office posted online. "Continuing to search the area for the vehicle in the vicinity of Delaplane, Virginia, the deputy located it near the intersection of Highway 17 and Rokeby Road, where the driver had passed multiple vehicles stopped at the railroad crossing and had struck the side of a moving train. The deputy immediately requested EMS for the driver and two passengers, extinguished a fire in the vehicle’s engine bay, and rendered first aid."

The driver, 19-year-old Jeremiah A.T. Greenfield, of Winchester, and passenger, Nakii Russell, 20, of Leesburg, were injured in the crash.

"Charges are pending as the crash remains under investigation with consultation with the Commonwealth’s Attorney," a Virginia State Police spokesperson said.

Nina Pierce said Haidan was under the impression her boyfriend, Greenfield, had recently purchased the vehicle.

"It's a struggle, parenting teenagers, but I would tell other parents to try and know their friends better," Pierce said. "As parents we try, but we're naive. We overlook red flags. Had I spoken up [about those red flags], Haidan may not have been in the car."

Haidan Smallwood was shy, her mother said, and enjoyed working with animals, especially horses, at Shenandoah Sheds in White Post, Virginia.

Haidan planned to attend Liberty University in the fall where she was going to study nursing.

She was one of eight children. She died on her older sister's birthday.

Haidan and her sister
Haidan and her sister

"She was just getting started," her mom said about her daughter's life. "During her senior year in high school, she really turned things around. She started to believe in herself again. Now all of that is gone."

Haidan will be laid to rest in a service on Saturday.

A GoFundMe established to help her family pay funerals costs exceeded its goal, so additional money raised will be used to establish a scholarship in Haidan's honor.

"She was unable to donate her organs due to the investigation," Pierce said about her daughter's final wishes. "The scholarship is a way to give back and honor her."

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