Service held to remember Monroe teen killed in wreck - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Service held to remember Monroe teen killed in wreck

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Friends and family gather at Sun Valley High School for a service celebrating Santasia's life. Friends and family gather at Sun Valley High School for a service celebrating Santasia's life.
Santasia's mother, Tanisha Johnson, greets friends and family members after the service in Monroe. Santasia's mother, Tanisha Johnson, greets friends and family members after the service in Monroe.
Santasia Johnson (Photo source: Facebook) Santasia Johnson (Photo source: Facebook)
Santasia Johnson (Photo source: Facebook) Santasia Johnson (Photo source: Facebook)

MONROE, NC (WBTV) - A memorial service was held Wednesday morning for a Monroe teen who was killed in a wreck in Union County exactly one week ago.

The service was held in the Sun Valley High School gymnasium where 19-year-old Santasia Tatyanna Johnson attended school.

Purple and white balloons were attached to the chairs, and a table displaying pictures of Johnson was located next to the podium.

Various people stood up to share their memories of Johnson including Maurice Stitt.

"My heart is heavy, my heart is heavy," Stitt said. "God called home an angel that I know I will see again." 

Images of Johnson were also projected on the wall behind the podium.

Johnson was a passenger in a car that was t-boned by a truck on Wednesday, June 29.

Since her death, a makeshift memorial has steadily grown near the intersection of Highway 84 (Weddington Road) and Airport Road where the accident occurred.

"She was a really good friend to me and she listened to me when I had nobody else," said Johnson's friend, Raven Stevenson. "I'm just gonna miss her."

Friends tell WBTV that Johnson was a bright and bubbly young woman who had a smile that could light up a room.

"She smiles all the time," said Jasmine Winn who attended school with Johnson. "We used to giggle about her braces all the time, but she didn't care."

According to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, Johnson was a passenger in a Nissan Altima attempting to turn onto Airport Road. Scott Ginez, 19, was driving the Nissan.

The highway patrol says a Toyota Camry, driven by 21-year-old Nicole Kozak, was behind the Nissan.

As the Nissan slowed to make the turn, Kozak struck the Nissan which pushed the car into the path of a truck owned by Davey Tree Company.

Johnson died in the crash. Ginez and a back-seat passenger, 13-year-old Derrias Jackson, were injured and transported to Carolinas Medical Center for treatment.

The driver of the pickup had minor injuries only.

The highway patrol charged Kozak with misdemeanor death by vehicle.

A state trooper said parties involved were wearing their seatbelts and alcohol was not a factor in the crash.

According to Johnson's Facebook page, she worked as an associate at Carowinds theme park in south Charlotte. 

Bryn Winburn, a spokesperson for Carowinds, confirmed that Johnson had been an employee since February 2011.

More than anything, friends say Johnson touched a lot of lives and that is what will bring them comfort in what will surely be tough times ahead.

"I just know now that she's in a better place," said Stevenson. "I just wish I had the chance to say goodbye."

A second service will be held Thursday at 11 a.m. in Johnson's hometown of Orangeburg, SC, at the Garden of Prayer. The viewing will be Wednesday from 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. at Simmons Funeral Home located at 907 Russell Street in Orangeburg.

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