Accident victim fondly recalled

By: By Annick Joseph - Staff writer

ST. PAULS — The family of a local woman who was struck by a vehicle and killed is searching for answers.

“Why did it take 45 minutes for the ambulance to get to the her?” said Latia Taylor, a daughter of Ladonna Taylor. “We don’t understand how he couldn’t have seen her.”

Taylor, 49, of St. Pauls, walked into the roadway near Fourth and Broad streets shortly after 5 p.m., according to the police report, and was struck by a 2015 Nissan pickup truck driven by 70-year-old James Wesley Bell, of St. Pauls.

There is no crosswalk where Taylor entered the roadway, and Bell did not see Taylor, who was dressed in dark clothing, until he struck her, according to the police report. The speed limit on Broad Street is 20 mph.

Making visibility worse was it was getting dark and it was a cold and rainy day.

No charges will be filed against Bell, Police Chief Thomas Hagens said Wednesday.

LaDonna Taylor was taken first to Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton and then transferred to UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill, where she died.

Ladonna’s two children, Latia Taylor and Jessica Smith, say they are devastated. They want everyone to know she was a loving and unique person and a hard worker.

LaDonna Taylor worked at Elkay in Lumberton for 20 years, according to a posting on Facebook.

“She has three grandchildren, who she loved and cherished,” Latia Taylor said. “They were her heart.”

“I am not feeling well. She was our everything,” Smith said. “We can’t eat or sleep.”

Bell said he gets distraught when he thinks about what happened.

“I would rather have given my life to save hers,” he said. “It bothers me.”

Bell said LaDonna Taylor came out from between two cars in the rain.

“I tried my best to avoid her,” Bell said. “This was an accident.”

Bell wants the family to know he sympathizes with them.

“I know they are going through a lot. It pains me to know this happened,” he said. “It is so hard. I am sorry.”

Chief Hagens said he knew LaDonna Taylor for most of her life.

“She was nice to everyone,” Hagens said. “It is sad when something like this happens.”

Now, all the family can do is stay strong.

“We have to ask the Lord to give us the strength,” Smith said. “She was our rock; she was our motivation to go on.”

Smith said an all-white party was being planned for her mother’s 50th birthday, a celebration the family wants to incorporate in the funeral arrangements.

“She always wanted an all-white party, under the circumstances, now, it will be a celebration of her life,” she said. “We want everyone to wear white.”

An outpouring of messages on Facebook are littered with condolences and personal stories of LaDonna Taylor and how much she was loved and adored in the community. Latia Taylor, Smith and their family appreciate the support they are receiving on social media.

“We know that she touched so many people,” Smith said. “She was a strong woman.”

The family wants everyone to know that reading all the stories posted about their mother makes them smile.

“The people of the community will never forget her. They know what type of person she was,” Latia Taylor said. “We just want to say thank you.”

By Annick Joseph

Staff writer

Reach Annick Joseph by calling 910-816-1989 or via email at [email protected]

Reach Annick Joseph by calling 910-816-1989 or via email at [email protected]