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Family of deadly Day Road crash victim speaks

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - The family of the 21-year-old daycare teacher who was killed in the deadly crash on Day Road Tuesday spoke exclusively with ABC 57 on Thursday for the first time since her death.

21-year-old Nancy Pierson was driving on Day Road early Tuesday morning when she veered into a Frito Lay semi-truck.

The impact killed her and her 17-year-old passenger, Anthony Willocks.

With images of Pierson’s crumpled car engrained in the minds of her family, they’re sharing happy memories to honor the legacy of their promising young daycare teacher.

“You know you wake up in the morning and you think it was a dream. It’s not, and you get numb all over again, and empty. The emptiness inside is just unbelievable, you know,” said Nancy’s mother, Tammy Pierson.

Tammy lost her 21-year-old daughter, Nancy, in a car crash Tuesday morning.

Nancy’s 17-year-old passenger, Anthony Willocks, also died.

“We saw the crash on the TV, and of course my husband was sitting there looking at it…but he could see the car, but he couldn’t tell if that was her. The color, he knew the color,” said Pierson.

“I hate talking about her in the past tense, because I still haven’t grasped the whole situation,” said Nancy’s aunt, Joyce Dudley.

“I just think God decided he needed her up there to take care of his little angels up there,” said Pierson.

She said it’s just like she did here, as a beloved LaPetite Academy teacher.

“When the kids needed that extra TLC, that extra hug, she was there. We always had the book called our Hugaroo, and the kids always would point to Miss Nancy, and say ‘my hugagoo,’ you know they never could say ‘roo’, but it was my hugagoo, and that was what Miss Nancy was, my hugaroo to her,” said Jessie Scygiel, a fellow LaPetite teacher.

Two parents remembered the ‘hugaroo’ who took care of their kids for months.

“It seemed like that was her calling, to work with children, and her interaction with them,” said Amanda Whitmore, whose son was one of Nancy’s students.

“It’s hard to drop your kids off at daycare, but when you have a smiling face welcoming them in, it’s kind of easy to feel better, like okay, they’re going to be good with her,” said Teshelle Peterson, whose daughter was Nancy’s student.

As Amanda Whitmore and Teshelle Peterson hug their babies tight, Nancy’s mom is left to just remember her own—her sissy.

“We had our mother daughter tattoo, and it’s just a connection that can’t be broke,” said Tammy.

“Everyone that she knows calls her fancy Nancy. Everyone at work, and that’s literally what I remember is her, she’s so sassy, and I still to this day. When I put this shirt on today, I was waiting for a text, get my shirt off, take it off and don’t wear it again,” said Michelle Pierson, Nancy’s younger sister.

“Hugs, beautiful smile, laughter, just when she laughed, it just brightened up the room,” said Todd Vest, Nancy’s uncle.

“Well, she was a spitfire, we can say that for sure,” said Tammy.

Luckily, they have her aptly-named dog, Sparky, to serve as a reminder of the things Nancy loved.

As they try to live, laugh, and love without her, Nancy’s family says one thing’s for sure, they’ll never forget her.

“It warms my heart to know that she can leave this world and she can have so much love and so many memories that she left for people,” said Tammy.

Nancy Pierson’s memorial service will be held Friday at 1 p.m. at Christian Center Church in South Bend.

The family is asking attendees to wear Nancy’s favorite color, purple, to the service in Nancy’s honor.

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