‘A parent’s worst nightmare,’ mom says about death of her daughter, a UC student hit by car

MORAINE — The parents of Cayden Turner, the Moraine woman and University of Cincinnati student who was hit and killed by a car as she and her roommate crossed a street near campus Wednesday, said they just cannot believe their 18-year-old is gone.

>> RELATED: UC student from Moraine hit, killed by car; Her roommate is stable, police say

“I never thought, preparing for college all summer long, that she wouldn’t be able to finish,” Cayden’s mom, Skeisha Rembert-Wilkerson, told News Center 7′s Brandon Lewis on Thursday night.

“I still can’t believe it,” said her stepdad, Jermaine Wilkerson. “We lost an angel.”

Friday evening, Cincinnati police announced they had arrested the 17-year-old driver who hit Turner and her roommate, Namiya Russell, also 18, as they crossed Jefferson Avenue near main campus. Russell is listed in stable condition at a hospital, the Cincinnati Police Traffic Unit said in the updated statement released Friday. Both are 2022 Chaminade Julienne graduates.

Turner and Russell were crossing Jefferson Avenue, from east to west, in a marked crosswalk when they were hit by 2014 Honda CR-V whose driver disregarded a red light as the vehicle headed north on Jefferson at high speed, according to the police traffic unit.

The vehicle continued, hit a tree and came to rest on West Martin Luther King Drive. The driver ran, heading east on King Drive, according to police who were searching for that person Thursday night.

Excessive speed is a factor in the crash, the traffic unit has concluded, but impairment as a factor as yet to be determined.

The statement from the traffic unit makes no mention as to whether the car was suspected to have been stolen, as was reported initially by our news partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati.

>>RELATED: 1 taken to the hospital after pedestrian strike in Huber Heights

Wednesday night, members of UC’s Urbanism Club stood on Jefferson Avenue in protest for increased street safety. They rang bicycle bells, flashed bicycle lights and waved signs that read “End Vehicular Violence” and “One Death is Too Many,” The News Record, the independent newspaper published by UC students, reported.

Thursday, the newspaper reported that the UC community was continuing to come together to mourn Turner and Russell:

The Wilkersons also praised all of the people who have visited with them and expressed condolences via social media.

“We are definitely surrounded by love and prayers,” Rembert-Wilkerson said.

The Wilkersons want people to remember her daughter, a 2022 Chaminade Julienne graduate, as an Eagle ambassador and a member of the high school track team and a college freshman who had earned A’s and one B in the short time she was in college to study public relations and web design.

Rembert-Wilkerson also wants people to remember her “awesome” girl’s smile.

Turner was an organ donor, something her mother said “gives me a little comfort knowing that she will live on through some other person.”

Rembert-Wilkerson hopes police find the driver -- who police said ran away after crashing it not too far from the accident scene -- and prosecutes everyone who was in the car. According to police, one person in the car suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, while two other people in the car and the driver fled.

She’s also hoping the city of Cincinnati does something about making Jefferson Avenue safer for students.

Rembert-Wilkerson said she decided to speak publicly about Cayden because “I want her to live on. Just because a person is tragically killed, their life and spirit can live on.”

We will continue to update this developing report as we learn more.