Mother describes crash that killed her 1-year-old son, injured her fiance

March 15, 2013

Tanisha Williams and her fiance were out for a walk — their son bundled into a stroller — when the blue pickup truck swerved around traffic on St. Barnabas Road and headed straight at them. It hopped the curb, barreling toward mom, dad and 1-year-old Sherrik Farmer Jr. on the sidewalk.

Williams said her fiance pushed her out of the way, then tried to do the same with the stroller. She said she watched as her son and fiance flew in different directions, then she ran to tend Sherrik.

“I knew right then and there,” she said, “that my baby was gone.”

Prince George’s police and fire officials said the child and his father — 24-year-old Sherrik Farmer Sr. — were taken to nearby hospitals, where the child was pronounced dead. Williams and fire officials said Farmer suffered serious injuries to his legs but is expected to survive. Williams, 21, said he was undergoing surgery Friday.

“In reality, if my fiance hadn’t pushed me out of the way, all three of us would have been hit by the truck,” Williams said.


Sherrik Farmer Jr., 1, was killed when a driver jumped a curb and struck the stroller he was in. (Family Photo)

The crash occurred about 5 p.m. Thursday in the 5100 block of St. Barnabas Road in the Marlow Heights area. The truck’s driver, a 60-year-old D.C. man, remained on the scene after the incident, and detectives are looking into whether charges against him are warranted.

It remains unclear why the driver, whom police declined to identify, left the roadway. Law enforcement officials familiar with the case, speaking on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss the ongoing probe, said drugs and alcohol did not appear initially to be factors. As is normal in fatal crashes, the investigation could take weeks, and ultimately, prosecutors will decide what charges, if any, are appropriate, police said.

“They wouldn’t normally charge the driver until they can develop the evidence to have probable cause to say the driver did something wrong,” said Lt. William Alexander, a county police spokesman.

Williams said her son was one of the “happiest babies you can ever meet,” and one of the hungriest, too. Sherrik, she said, “would eat you out of house and home,” no matter what you put in front of him.

“He didn’t have any favorites,” Williams said. “He would eat anything.”

Sherrik loved to play with family members’ cellphones and would often dance to their ringtones, Williams said. She said that when she had trouble sleeping after the crash, she clung to the memory of Sherrik lying on her chest, trying to put her shirt in his mouth.

“I’m so used to him being that close to me,” Williams said. “He was my angel.”

Williams, who lives with her grandmother on Southview Drive just a few miles from the crash scene, said she and her fiance decided to go for a walk Thursday because the weather was nice. Farmer, her sweetheart from their days at Mount Vernon High School, lives in Woodbridge but often stays with her and their son in the Oxon Hill area, Williams said.

Williams said she is not sure what — if any — punishment the driver of the truck deserves, although she believes he should be charged criminally.

“I’m happy that he didn’t drive off, but at the end of the day, he still took my son’s life away from me,” she said. “It’s hard for us because we lost a beautiful baby.”

Williams said she hopes that one day she will be able to “forgive him, because accidents do happen,” but the pain is still fresh. She said that she cannot help but replay images of the crash over and over in her mind.

“All I can see is my baby’s body just flying, and there’s nothing I can do,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to be making plans for my son’s funeral.”

Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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