Mom has message for drunk drivers after daughter’s death

Maleeca Smith

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin family is coping with their daughter’s death after she died Sunday night in a crash involving a 26-year-old man who was charged with intoxication manslaughter. Police says Shawn Amende ran a red light and smashed into Maleeca Smith’s car.

Shawn Amende
Shawn Amende

The crash happened around 10:30 p.m. Sunday at the corner of Gracy Farms Lane and Burnet Road in North Austin.

Smith, 20, went to Eastside Memorial High School two years ago and  graduated third in her class.  Her mother says while her daughter was tiny, she had a big personality. She was a Girl Scout in high school, was in the orchestra, a cheerleader, and a manager for several different sports teams in high school.

Smith was a sophomore at University of Texas at San Antonio and studying physical therapy. She came home to Austin to visit her mom and sister, 21-year-old LaTiya, for the weekend.

“We were just spending the day together, we were eating, hanging out, we went to Castle Hill together, we took pictures,” said Measha Smith, Maleeca’s mother. “I had told [Maleeca and LaTiya] a couple of times throughout the day, ‘I’m so glad we’re having fun, I’m glad we’re together just enjoying ourselves.’”

Smith’s sister is also a student and has a part-time job making deliveries. LaTiya and her mom had two more deliveries and had dropped Smith back off at her car, then took her to get gas.

“I remember saying, ‘See you in a little bit. Be careful, I love you,”‘ Measha said. “I’m happy that I got to at least tell her that, but it’s still the hardest part, you know, that I had just seen her.”

Measha and LaTiya were right behind Smith, but had taken a different route to finish LaTiya’s deliveries. On their way home they saw flashing lights at the intersection of Gracy Farms Lane and Burnet Road near their home, but thought the lights were coming from construction crews.

When Measha realized her daughter wasn’t home and looked up Smith’s location using a GPS tracker, she saw her daughter was near the crash site. She went to the wreck and found out from police it was her daughter.

“I feel guilty, I feel like it’s my fault because we had just seen her, so it’s like I sent her to her death. If I could have kept her one more minute at the gas station,” said Smith. “I lived for [my daughters], so like what am I supposed to do now? I have Tiya, but still it used to be three of us, so we’ll really really miss her.”

When it comes to Amende, the man charged with intoxication manslaughter, Smith said she doesn’t know his name or what he looks like. She said she doesn’t want to right now.

“I was literally at the crime scene really looking for him, like is there kind of a way I could find out who he is or anything like that, but after the fact it’s not worth it, it’s not going to bring her back,” Measha said. “Just let the Lord handle it.”

The mother of two said she wants people to know “it’s stupid and not worth it” to get behind the wheel after drinking.

“His family still has to suffer because of the mistake that he made, and it’s just not worth it,” she said. “We got cabs, we got buses, we got Lyft, Uber, got so many things that it just didn’t make sense.”

Visitation for Maleeca Smith will be on Saturday from 5-8 at All Faith Funeral Service with an after service on Sunday at Eastside Memorial High School at 2 pm . Family and friends have set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to help pay for the funeral costs.

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