NEW ORLEANS — Friends and family were still in disbelief Sunday as they began to pay their respects to Sharree Walls during a visitation at Charbonnet Funeral Home in Treme.
The 27-year-old was one of nine cyclists hit by a car speeding down Esplanade Avenue last Saturday. She and 31-year-old David Hynes were killed. Seven other cyclists were injured.
Police have said the man behind the wheel of that car was Tashonty Toney. He was reportedly celebrating his 32nd birthday before the crash happened, and he's suspected of driving drunk.
Toney remained jailed Sunday on charges including vehicular homicide and hit-and-run driving that caused death or serious injury.
Walls' parents are now left to mourn the woman they describe as a friendly and loving person and a devoted daughter and sister.
"She loved her dad, and she and her sister were best friends," Lois Benjamin said of her daughter. "And they had, to me, a bond between sisters that most people don't have."
Cardies Walls said he spoke to his daughter several times a day. He said he recently joked with her about how she could stop that from happening.
"I said, 'If you find someone, get into a relationship I wouldn't call you so much,'" he said with a laugh. "That was an incentive I gave her. And so that's one of the things I'm going to miss is that daily conversation."
On Sunday, a ghost bike and growing memorial marked the spot where Walls lost her life.
Benjamin said she's angry at Toney. "Yet I have compassion, because he's totally ruined his life. I feel for his family," she said.
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But for Cardies Walls, he said it's harder to have compassion since witnesses said Toney tried to run away from the scene.
"That's one thing about choices. Everybody can make your own choices, but you don't make your own consequences," Walls said. "And as he kept moving on, trying to escape his consequences, he destroyed a lot of lives."