CLAYTON, N.C. (WNCN) — Family and friends are remembering 14-year-old Jadyn Simpson as a friend who would stand up for anyone.
She was a passenger in a car on Interstate-40 in Durham last weekend, when police say another car rear-ended it, causing it to slam into a tractor-trailer and concrete barrier.
In the week since her death, the community has come together to support Jadyn’s grieving family and to ensure that her legacy lives on.
Simpson’s smile shines through her photographs, celebrating the milestones and memories of her early teen years.
“She had the biggest smile, the biggest heart,” recalled family friend, Christen Winstead. “She is the typical teenager, loves music, binge-watching Netflix shows, spending time with her friends, shopping.”
Jadyn adored her younger siblings and felt a mixture of nervousness and excitement about starting high school this year.
While, in many ways, she was a typical teenager, in others, Winstead said, Jadyn stood out.
“She was wise beyond her years and was never afraid to be the one to stand up and defend anybody,” Winstead explained. “She was striving to make a difference in the world and she started in her small community.”
“An activist for all,” is how family and friends describe Jadyn, who’d just finished the eighth grade at Clayton Middle school.
Friends say she was the first to welcome a new student and never left anyone behind.
“She fought against injustices, and deep down in her heart what she wanted is everybody to just feel loved, to be seen and heard, respected and safe,” Winstead said.
“She was definitely an advocate for everybody,” Winstead added, “Especially those who couldn’t stand up for themselves or were scared to stand up for themselves. She’s the one. She’s the one that would.”
Those who knew Jadyn, have no doubt she made a difference in her 14 years.
After her sudden death, the many people who felt Jadyn’s love and support are reaching out to help her stunned and grieving family.
“They are the kind of people who, when you need something, they’re there,” Winstead noted. A GoFundMe page for the family raised more than $28,000 in a week.
Although Jadyn won’t get the chance to start high school, those who love her believe her legacy will continue through the friends she inspired.
“They can stand in and take Jadyn’s dreams and carry them forward in their life,” said Winstead.
Through their grief, her family and community are working to make sure Jadyn’s smile is never forgotten and her courage carries on.
“What they want,” Winstead explained, “Is for her light to never dim.”
According to Durham police, the driver of the car that caused the July 10 crash is charged with failure to reduce speed and misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.