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Crash kills mother, son; alcohol suspected
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Crash kills mother, son; alcohol suspected

ELM CITY — Her big sister and 3-year-old nephew didn’t deserve to die at the hands of a drunken driver, Latasia Cooper said.

Relatives and friends gathered Tuesday afternoon to comfort Lashunaqa Ilesa Cooper’s family after the 21-year-old and her son, 3-year-old Jiquel Copeland, were killed in a head-on crash Monday night outside Rocky Mount.

"We didn’t believe it would happen to a family like us,” said Latasia, who is 15. "We don’t believe we deserve stuff like that. It was like something you see on TV.”

Lashunaqa Cooper of 521 Bahma Circle was driving north on Church Street/U.S. 301 Business in a 1991 Honda sedan when an oncoming 2001 GMC pickup truck crossed the center line and smashed into Cooper’s car around 9:30 p.m. Monday, according to the N.C. Highway Patrol.

State troopers believe the driver, 25-year-old Stacey Deans of 10827 Camp Charles Road southwest of Bailey, was impaired, said Mary Collins of the Highway Patrol station in Rocky Mount.

Collins said troopers are awaiting results of a blood-alcohol test and charges in the crash are pending. Troopers met with Nash County prosecutors Tuesday afternoon to review the evidence, she said.

Latasia said her sister had finished her first day of work at the new Domino’s Pizza in Sharpsburg and had picked up Jiquel. They were on the way to an uncle’s house in Rocky Mount when the pickup truck crashed into their car.

"My sister was a great person,” Latasia said. "You had to figure her out, but she was a good person. She was trying to make it in life.”

Lashunaqa’s mother, Lawanda Cooper Alston, said her daughter had a unique bond with Jiquel.

"She loved to get out, and she never traveled without her baby,” Alston said. "They were like brother and sister instead of mother and son. That’s how close they were.”

The eldest of four children, Lashunaqa Cooper graduated from Rocky Mount High in 2011, her sister said. The young mother wanted to become a cosmetologist or go into a nursing field. Relatives remembered her as strong and independent.

"She was unique,” said aunt Takina Cooper. "She was different. She stood out from everyone else. She was her own leader.”

Latasia said her sister loved her family, but she valued her privacy and independence.

"We were close, but she was distant from everybody,” Latasia said. "You had to figure her out. She didn’t like everybody to know too much about her.”

Latasia said three state troopers and a pastor came to her house to notify the family of her sister’s death around midnight.

"It’s been hard, especially after we first found out,” Latasia said. "She was an outstanding person.”

Collins said the crash happened about two miles south of Rocky Mount. The speed limit on U.S. 301 Business is 45 mph, and an estimate of Deans’s speed was not immediately available.

If troopers prove that Deans was impaired at the time of the wreck, Latasia said he should face a severe punishment for taking two innocent lives.

"I do think they should go to jail or get the death penalty,” she said. "It makes me feel empty. I just don’t know.”

Alston said she wouldn’t want Deans to face the death penalty, but she believes he deserves life in prison.

"I’m going to see that justice is served,” she said. "I don’t want death, but I want him to spend his every last day in prison. I don’t want him to see light. What he did to me was unthinkable. I can never get it back.”

Alston said she doesn’t have the words to describe the grief a parent feels after losing a child and grandchild. She hopes her daughter’s death will serve as a warning for those thinking about driving home after consuming alcohol.

"This stops people’s lives when something like this happens,” she said. "Please don’t drink and drive. There’s happiness that you can never get back when it leads to a death.” | 265-7821
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Angela said...

My late condolences, but I just saw this on you tube today. Mrs. Alston became an unwilling member of MADD....I guess all would rather not be apart of that club.

Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 4:36 AM
Believer said...

it's hard to forgive, especially when you've been hurt so deeply, but as time goes on, that's what God would have us to do.and He said said in his word, if we don't forgive others, He wont forgive us.I have lost a loved one, but in a different way.Just know that as time goes by, God will continue to heal your hurt. prayers of comfort to you and your family.

Saturday, June 08, 2013 at 8:36 PM
Kathy said...

When other people do something wrong and say well he had a rough life or lived in the projects people want to be sympathic,but not in this case These boys had neither a mother or father that gave a rats behind for them. Don't assume you know he was drunk no one knows for sure yet.If and that is a big if he was impaired then justice will be served and if not a lot of people will be eating crow

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:31 PM
to grammer said...

You spelled grammar wrong.

Monday, March 18, 2013 at 10:37 AM
grammer said...

To Smh..... Is that English your speaking? My condolences to the families.

Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 8:20 PM
Remorse said...

I believe that NOONE should drive with any amount of alcohol in their system. Alcohol as with any drug impairs different people in different ways. There are a lot of contributing factors when it comes to blood alcohol levels, such as body size, food, type of alcohol, and length of time from last drink to the time the level was drawn. If ANYONE knows ANYTHING about the court system, they would know that the hearing on Thursday was not for him to say he was sorry, it was for him to state he understood the charges, the time will come for him to say he is sorry! All the families need prayer, consideration, and compassion! Do you think that the victims family was ready to hear "I'm sorry", from him or his family at this time, NO I do not think so! The victims family needs time to heal, and they will probably be a lot better when EVERYONE stops with the STUPID, NASTY comments. There will be a day for justice, and a day for them to be told that there loved ones died because of a split second bad choice. As far as the comments about they were not drafted into the military, NO they were not, BUT during the time they enlisted, IF young men and women were not volunteering to go into the military, then WE would have had a draft, DO YOU remember that people who were in the military at that time, were not being allowed to get out, I do believe it was called the "BACK DOOR DRAFT"! As far as them being messed up> IS ANY ONE PERFECT!!! I believe the Wilson Daily Times, did list his criminal record...HOW MANY OF YOU THAT HAVE COMMENTED, has a record WORSE that his? LOOK in your own CLOSET before you start throwing stones at someone else! May GOD be with both families, and especially all of the ones portraying to be Christians that have forgotten that the BIBLE tells us we have one Judge, and that we should practice patience, love, compassion. We can all help these families by being there to comfort them, and hold each other up through love and not hate. Hate and bitterness will not help anyone to survive through this. MAybe a thought to stop DRUNK DRIVING altogether, would be for ALL vehicles to be equipped with a type of device not to start if there is ANY amount of alochol, rather than after people are caught driving drunk..THAT would PREVENT anyone from DRIVING DRUNK!!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 10:58 AM @DWI said...

Also, BAC is measured relative to body size (actually, particles ethanol per hundred "particles" blood) -- in fact a rating of 0.08% BAC should impair somebody weighing 400lbs about as much as somebody weighing 130. In fact, the person weighing 400 is likely to be more affected, as his/her metabolism is going to be slower.

Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 1:23 AM J said...

I reserve judgement on whether or not the driver was in fact drunk, until that is actually determined. We shouldn't be focusing on that, so much as lending the affected families our support...otherwise, we degrade ourselves to the level of petty politicians. IF he was in fact drunk (which is still a big 'if,' to be determined by our legal system), then yes, I agree that he should rot. Don't base your judgement (which profoundly impacts how you will treat the accused in the future) on allegations made by an unknown individual, whose personal integrity has yet to be tested before the general public.
Anyhow, I send my sincerest condolences to those affected by this tragic turn of events. It's never easy to say goodbye to somebody who has left before their prime, let along two people. I'm sure they were both precious to many, and that they will be greatly missed. Best wishes!

Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 1:20 AM smh...fam said...

ok dey say he wnt assembled right in the but are we lookin at da big pix here??? Lik a drunk driver hit dem and killed em...lik den for him to b in court him and his family had no remorse...he didnt even apologize for his actions...lik and the person dat have know him since elementary who to say our family want thru or been thru...lik who is da victim here????

Friday, March 15, 2013 at 9:10 AM @ Who's to say said...

If it walks like a drunk, smells like a drunk, and drives like a drunk, it most likely is a drunk.

Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 6:27 PM DWI said...

Sorry to this family for their loss. To answer a few DWI questions, people drink and drive because they make the decision to do so after they are already impaired. You are looking at this from a sober point of view which is why it sounds so crazy. To that point, what gets me is that the law ALLOWS drinking and driving...up to .08 like that is some magic number. I think it is absolutely ludicrous to have a law that allows a substance to be in the body which impairs rational thinking yet somehow we think they are going to magically make a good decision about driving. Am I the only one who thinks that is crazy logic???? 250lb man at .08 is a lot different than a 90lb girl at .08. Granted 'most' people with some smarts plan ahead and avoid driving but I still see good people at local civic clubs, golf courses, etc turning it up and then driving home.

Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 3:14 PM Who's To Say said...

We all know that drinking & Driving is BAD,& I hate this ever happen, But who's to say he was drunk until blood work comes back? and no matter how much you all dont want to hear it (the baby was'nt properly in his seat). And a 91 GMC and much bigger than a Honda,to who ever said that.An to who said signing up for military is stupid, well if it was'nt for people like him we wouldnt be safe. I cnant beleave the dumb comments up here. To the Family of the lost ones, IM SO SORRY and i know yall are hurting really bad, just turn to god and pray for all idiots that know no better. People Plz Buckle Up & Dont Drink & Drive. All of you are in my prayers. God bless you all.

Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 2:41 PM Itissaid said...

to WHOA....
I have known these boys since elementary school and for you to say "these boys were already messed up" don't know their family situation or you obviously would not have said such a thing. These boys have been through a lot in their lives and continue to. But to criticize them is uncalled for.
Yes, he should not have been drinking and driving, if that was the case, which still hasn't been proved. He has made a terrible mistake and will live with it the rest of his life whether he spends life in prison or months in prison, he has to wake up every morning knowing he took the life of a young mother and child. Shame on you for saying such a thing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 2:30 PM To WHOA said said...

How dare you put the blame on this mother for her child dying. If this man was home drunk where he should have been and not on the street driving this would not have happened. Who is to say if the child had been properly restrained that he still would not have died - his mother did. Have you seen the size of a 1991 Honda car compared to a 2001 GMC pick up truck. There is no way that anyone could have survived in that car. Shame on you for your stupid comment.

Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 9:51 AM Deshawn said...

It's sad to see that a mother and son was killed by a drunk driving incident. Especially since the boy was still a baby.

Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 9:24 AM @hope hc said...

The country has been at war for too long. However, these young men were not drafted and sent to war. They signed up during time of war. Can't blame being stupid and driving drunk on volunteering to military service. I wish the child had been restrained properly in his seat. Please people, if your not positive you are utilizing car seats properly, go by any fire station and the firemen will be glad to help with proper installation and usage.

Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 9:18 AM said...

Ok yea she may nt have did da right thing by da car seat...but does dat make it right for a drunk driver to get behind yur a wheel??? Not even wit da intention to take a life nt including two...lik whos to say he would have made it if he was properly sitted...lik im jus hurt yo

Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 12:30 AM To WHOA said...

Yep!!! There is no excuse for being stupid and killing people.

Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 9:18 PM WHOA! said...

I know the twins, have for many many years. Being deployed did not do this to them. They were troubled from middle school. My son has been deployed, and I do agree with the fact they need counseling afterwards, but these boys were already messed up. I feel so bad for the family. I don't understand how people make these choices. The choice to not correctly restrain your 3 year old is another bad choice. Please people, use the brain you have been given.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 3:37 PM Tears said...

I grieve with this family. This young lady was only trying to survive. This is so sad.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 12:05 PM It's a shame.. said...

According to another news source, this mother didn't properly buckle her son in his child seat; his life could have been saved. Guess we will never know...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 11:15 AM HOPE HC said...

I dont condone Drinking & Driving, and i know its wrong, But our goverment send these young men to WAR to witness all kinds of death and then drops them off back here /home & thinks that they should be ok???? See there aint nothing done to make sure these boys are not suffering from PDS and alot of them fall back on Drinking to releave there pain/stress. I know it isnt right for NO ONE to drink & Drive and my heart go's out to them and i pray hard for everyone that is hurting over this. God bless you all

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 9:16 AM justmy2cents said...

Precious picture... this makes me so sad for the family of these two. I have seen more people drifting over the line lately... I fear more innocent lives will be lost because someone was doing something "more important" than watching where they are driving. Please, let us ALL me more careful! Rest in peace young mom and son! rest in peace...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 11:46 PM SMH said...

SMH at such selfish people who drive impaired. You know it's wrong, stupid, against the law & dangerous, yet you have total disregard & choose to do it anyway. This is so heartbreaking to me, that young mother & her precious baby boy. I cannot even imagine the pain this family is going through. My prayers for the strength comfort that can only come from God above!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 11:24 PM CURTIS said...


Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 9:42 PM said...

Praying for the family and friends during this difficult time! Wish people would think of others before getting behind the wheel drunk!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 7:16 PM
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