Grieving Mother Memorializes Dead Daughters by Helping Other Teens Succeed


When BreAnne Woodson’s daughters didn’t show up for class, she knew something was wrong.

BreAnne was a teacher at Cumberland High School in Cumberland, Virginia, where her daughters also attended school. She began to panic when they didn’t show up on April 26, 2017, and left the high school to find them.

As she turned the curve in the road, she saw a horrific sight that confirmed her worst nightmare.

“As I come around the curve and approach the bridge, I see what looked like something had exploded, parts all across the bridge,” BreAnne remembered. “There’s still a whole bumper of a car still in tact. As I get out and look, I know it’s my bumper to my vehicle because I had personalized plates.”

The girls had crashed into the nearby river on their way to school. The rest of the car was in the water and she knew her two teen daughters weren’t alive.

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Six hours later the car was finally pulled from the Willis River. Both Michaela, 16, and Tyauna, 14, were pronounced dead.

“It’s been like living a nightmare every day,” BreAnne described life after the accident.

Her motivation to keep going is her other two children, Darren and Bren. The rest of her family and others in the local community have also supported her during the grieving process.

“I can kind of hear [Michaela and Tyauna] in my head saying, ‘Momma don’t give up, you still have Darren and Bren. You still need to show up for life and make sure they are taken care of,’” she said.

One year after the accident, the family has also decided to celebrate the teen girls’ lives with “Memorial Week” at their old high school.

The themed days were inspired by things the girls enjoyed doing. In order to participate, a student must pay a dollar that will then go into a new scholarship fund in the Woodson sisters’ honor.

Some of the themed days include “Sleeping Beauties Day,” “Snapchat Filter day,” and “Day of Kindness.”

The goal is to raise enough money to award two students each year with a $10,000 scholarship. The family hopes they can start accepting applications in 2019.

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BreAnne said, “Both my girls were very smart in school, so our goal is just help two students when that time comes for them to graduate and I want to make sure the community always remembers them.”

The “Memorial Week” will end with a local block party that will also raise money to go into the scholarship fund. Food will be sold, and both a bingo tournament and silent auction will be held.

In the midst of grief and tragedy, BreAnne has found a kind, selfless way to keep the legacy of her two teen daughters alive.

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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