Mothers express unbridled pain as arrests made in fatal hit-and-run cases of three teens


INDIANAPOLIS — Joycelyn Jackson, Kashonna Brown and LaShana Martin physically held onto each other during a news conference Thursday evening regarding the tragic deaths of their teenage children. The mothers did not know each other before tragedy struck their families early Saturday morning, but now consider each other sisters.

“I don’t want no one else to feel this pain cause this pain is so……unfair,” Kashonna Brown, Kierra’s mom, said.

According to the family, IMPD and court documents, 15-year-old Kierra, 14-year-old David Evans and 13-year-old Tyjiana Velez were walking in a group of young people when they were hit and killed by an accused drunk driver.

“You have young people who are grieving not only for the loss of their friends, but also going through the experience of seeing something very traumatic,” Prosecutor Ryan Mears said.

On Thursday, IMPD arrested 49-year-old Okadema Link and 24-year-old Shantiana Willis for their roles in the teens’ deaths. According to IMPD, they are father and daughter.

Based on the investigation, IMPD believes Link’s vehicle was traveling approximately 73 mph, two seconds prior to the crash. Additionally, they believe Willis’ vehicle was traveling approximately 88 mph just before the crash. The speed limit on Kessler Boulevard is 35 mph.

“There’s no excuse for him driving that fast,” Jackson said. “I don’t know what him and that young lady were doing, but the fact is that three young people are gone right now that should still be here.”

After the crash, Link’s vehicle allegedly drove over the white fog line and struck the three teens who were walking on the gravel shoulder of the roadway. Link fled the scene without stopping to provide aid. 

“We’re struggling real hard right now,” Jackson said through tears. “From the information we’ve received since we been here, we know that this man should not be on the streets right now.”

Court documents indicate he returned about an hour later and admitted to a detective at the scene that he was the driver of the vehicle which hit the children. Those records indicate he told the detective he did not consume drugs and alcohol before the crash, but the detective reportedly smelled it on his breath.

Link is charged with three counts of leaving the scene of an accident (level 3 felonies), three counts causing death when operating a vehicle while intoxicated (level 4 felonies), and three counts reckless homicide (level 5 felonies).

Willis is charged with three counts of causing death when operating a vehicle while intoxicated (level 4 felonies), three counts of reckless homicide (level 5 felonies) and three counts causing death when operating a vehicle with an ace of .08 or more (level 4 felonies).

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