ELYRIA — The passenger of a car that landed on top of a garage on New Year’s Day died Friday at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, leaving a 10-year-old boy without parents.
Jami Chappell, 33, was the second death to result from the crash. Driver Asim Taylor, 39, who was Chappell’s boyfriend, also died in the crash.
Taylor and Chappell had a son, Kamren Taylor, who has been staying with Taylor’s family since the crash, according to Nicole Gunter, Chappell’s sister.
Chappell was one of four children born to Tamela and Chuck Gunter, of Elyria. Her sister, Nicole, said she was close with her and their other siblings, Jennifer and Charles Gunter, and Charles’ wife, Caitlyn Gunter.
Taylor was driving south on South Abbe Road about
3:45 a.m. Jan. 1 when he crashed the car into a home that sits where South Abbe Road meets Chestnut Ridge Road.
Police said Taylor ran the sedan into the guardrail in front of the house and then hit a rock, which vaulted the car onto the home’s attached garage.
Taylor was declared dead at the scene, and Chappell was flown to MetroHealth, where she remained in the intensive care unit until Friday.
Chappell’s family filled her hospital room with photos, stuffed animals and flowers and tried to will her to wake up as they went through what Nicole Gunter described as “hell.”
“I always called her Chappell and I would say, ‘Chappell, you have to come back, don’t leave me here with mom and dad,’” Gunter said, laughing through tears. “She was the one I would call when they all got on my nerves. I also begged her not to leave Kam because he lost his father. I didn’t want him to lose her. He needed her.”
Nicole Gunter said she had last talked with her sister before the crash, when Chappell asked if she wanted to go with her and Taylor to a friend’s house in Elyria.
“She was always smiling,” Nicole said of Chappell. “She lit up the room. She had these big, big sky blue eyes, and everybody talked about them.”
Nicole Gunter said the sisters lived near each other and spent much of their time apart texting or calling one another.
Nicole Gunter said Kamren is “devastated” by his mother’s death.
“They were extremely close. He lived for that woman,” she said. “He was very protective of his mother.”
Nicole Gunter said Chappell put her son into every sport and activity and would talk endlessly about his accomplishments.
“I will tell (Kamren) how much she loved him. How much she couldn’t stand being away from him and how all she talked about was him.” Nicole Gunter said. “And he has her blue eyes. We look at him and see her. It’s comforting because I see her so much in him.”
She said Kamren has a “feisty” streak just like Chappell, who was loyal to her family “to an extreme.”
“No one could mess with us,” she said. “None of us will ever be the same. It’s always been us four, and then my brother got married and it turned out to five because she loved her sister-in-law like a sister. It’s like a piece of us is ripped out of our hearts.”