KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A 23-year-old woman is dead after a car crash on Maynardville Highway that happened earlier this month. Her mother claims that hanging around the wrong people is what got her daughter killed. 

“She was very outgoing,” said Jenny Thronton, the mother of Mikayla McBurnette who died due to her injuries from the crash. “[She was] not so soft spoken at all and she loved life.” 

Thornton said her daughter had a bright personality, but McBurnette struggled with addiction. 

“There were times when we didn’t see eye to eye because I tried to help her, and she didn’t always want to accept the help,” she explained.

Thornton said her daughter was hanging around the wrong type of people, which is how she ended up in the back seat of a car that was involved in the crash on Sept. 11. 

According to an initial crash report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Honda Fit McBurnette was riding in was traveling south on Maynardville Highway when it failed to maintain its lane of travel, crossed the fog line onto the shoulder of the roadway then struck a guard rail actuator on the end of a concrete wall. The car then began to rotate clockwise back into the roadway, when it crossed the center dividing line and was struck by a Dodge Ram pick-up truck near the rear before coming to an uncontrolled rest on the roadway.

“They told me I needed to come to the hospital, that my daughter had been in a wreck, a very serious one, and I was the only person that she had on her emergency contact, and I hadn’t seen her in months, but of course, I went straight there,” Thornton explained.  

When Thornton got to the hospital, her daughter was on a ventilator and was paralyzed from the neck down.  

“She had a broken neck, she had 15 staples in her head, and she could not breathe on her own,” she stated.  

McBurnette was in the hospital for seven days until she was taken off the ventilator.  

“It’s just not the natural order of things to watch your child die so horrifically,” Thornton said through tears.  

She said that it was her daughter’s addiction that put her in the back seat of the car.

“I think it’s important for people to know, that even if you’re not dying in the process of doing drugs, drugs can still kill you,” she said.

She’s sharing her story hoping to give parents the strength to keep fighting for their kids.  

“Don’t ever give up trying, because I didn’t. It didn’t work out for me but it might save somebody else,” said Thornton.

THP says charges are pending against the 33-year-old driver of the car that McBurnette was in.