OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As State Troopers investigate the crash that killed a woman near a highway construction area, her family is focused on celebrating her life and caring for her young son.
“I had her when I was 16. I call her my day one.”
Marissa Santiago’s mother, Shirley Wilson is working to practice what she teaches her children: strength.
“I have to be strong because that’s how I raised my children to be, is to be strong,” Wilson said. “And she was strong. She was strong. She was a strong woman.”
But navigating the death of your firstborn child is an impossible task. One that she and Marissa’s father, Anthony Santiago, never imagined they would have to face.
“Her life and being an angel is everlasting so that’s what makes me okay,” Wilson said. “Because I know I’ll see her again.”
Newly promoted to a management position at a finance company, Marissa was focused on building a life for her family.
“She did her work. She did her works here,” Wilson said. “And she left us the best gift, and that’s Jaelyn.”
But early Saturday morning, a tragic discovery was called into authorities. Marissa’s SUV was found upside down in the Deep Fork River.
“The vehicle managed to get in the middle of the construction zone there on 235 around 50th and went off the road,” said OHP Trooper Capt. Paul Timmons.
Inside the car, crews found Marissa unconscious, held in by her seatbelt. She was rushed to the hospital where she died. What caused the crash and when it happened is a mystery that troopers are trying to solve.
“If anybody has any information at all that can help us determine what happened on this collision, we’d like for them to come forward,” Capt. Timmons said.
Now Marissa’s loved ones are committed to raising Jaelyn to be the unstoppable force she was, and to making sure he knows better than anyone how much she loved him.
“You have to know that at 25 she lived a full life that consisted of a son that’s going to continue her legacy,” Anthony said.
The heartbreak this family is feeling is eased only by the pride of knowing Marissa’s impact in her young life.
“There was not a moment when she did not live,” Wilson said. “She lived. She lived.”
A GoFundMe page was started with all proceeds dedicated to Marissa’s funeral expenses and caring for 5-year-old Jaelyn, or as her family lovingly calls him, “King Jaelyn.”
OHP Troopers are seeking any information about the crash and can be reached by calling (405) 425-2323.