Family remembers 2-year-old after I-40 crash at Strawberry Plains exit

Local News

We’re hearing from the family of a little girl killed in an early morning car crash Friday.

Knoxville police calling the crash DUI-related. 

We’re told the driver lost control on I-40, near Strawberry Plains. He, his front seat passenger and a 2-year-old girl were all ejected from the car. 

Her name was Zyliya Irvin. Police were notified Monday she had died.

WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel sitting down with Zyliya’s grandmother, devastated by her loss.

“It’s a total nightmare. We miss her so much. We miss her so much. The sound of her voice, her arms around my neck,” Donessa Irvin said. 

Donessa is now wondering how she’ll make it through. The loss of her only grandchild has been heartbreaking.

“We’ve prayed and prayed and prayed, and asked God to please bring our baby back to us. But I guess he wants her for Himself,” she said.

Zyliya Irvin was full of life, her grandma says, with a smile that would light up a room. 

“They pronounced her dead yesterday,” said Donessa on Monday. “And then they came to talk to us today and we made the decision to let her be an organ donor, because I would rather pieces of her walk around and knowing that we’re helping another family not ever have to go through what we’ve been through.”

Knoxville police saying Zyliya died from the injuries she sustained in the crash. KPD calling it DUI-related. Donessa wouldn’t elaborate, but made her message clear:

“Don’t drink and drive. For God’s sake. If somebody would have sit and told me last Monday when my baby was at my house, and we were playing, and doing all these things that this is where I would be sitting today, this Monday, there would have been no way.”

Donessa is holding on to the happy memories and promising to never forget her grandbaby.

“I want the world to know what a beautiful, beautiful spirit my baby was,” she said.

Police say Joevon Foust was driving the car when the crash happened. Jasmine Irvin was in the passenger seat.

Both were injured in the crash, and police tell us charges are pending the conclusion of the investigation.

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