‘She fought her little butt off,’ 3-year-old becomes third victim of Las Vegas wrong-way-driver crash


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — To anyone who walks into her Minnie Mouse and unicorn-decorated bedroom, the world of 3-and-a-half-year-old Jaya Brooks seems pretty in pink. Now, it’s feeling blue.

Her parents, 32-year-old Darea Swain and 28-year-old Jan Brooks told 8 News Now that their daughter died early Monday morning after a weekend of fighting head and heart injuries sustained Saturday afternoon.

Nevada State Police (NSP) confirmed Saturday that at least two people died when a wrong-way-driver, traveling south on northbound U.S. 95 between Elkhorn and Durango, collided with multiple vehicles around 3:20 p.m.

While sitting on the floor of his daughter’s bedroom Monday morning, Jan painfully relived the experience of driving home from a friend’s house with Jaya in the back seat.

“It looked intentional. They didn’t try to swerve or nothing. They literally just, boom,” Jan said, recounting a PT Cruiser colliding with a car parked on the shoulder that was then catapulted into the air above the HOV lane where he was driving. “The lead highway patrol said that their car was spinning on top of my car, and it just kept going.”

<em>Markings from the Saturday collision on U.S. 95 North as seen from the Elkhorn bridge Monday morning. (KLAS)</em>

Markings from the Saturday collision on U.S. 95 North as seen from the Elkhorn bridge Monday morning. (KLAS)

“I’m like ‘Jay, you okay?’ She wasn’t responding,” Jan continued. “I jumped out the roof of the car, opened her back door, unbuckled her. I’m like ‘Jaya?’ She was breathing, like, grunting.”

Running on “adrenaline,” Jan said he asked an officer to drive him and his daughter to Centennial Hospital instead of waiting for an ambulance. She arrived at the hospital with a gash in her head and dropping blood pressure.

Less than 48 hours later and after multiple lifesaving efforts, her parents said their last goodbye around 6:00 a.m. Monday.

“I feel so bad it had to be her. Like, she’s so innocent. I don’t even know what she wants to be when she gets older,” Jan said, attempting to contain forming tears in his eyes. “No matter what, how I treat her, she loved me unconditionally, no matter what.”

“She fought her little butt off. She just kept fighting. And I was just like, you know what, ‘baby, I just don’t want to let you go, but it’s okay. It’s okay,’” Swain said, creating similar tears while recounting her last moments with her daughter. “My mind is like, ‘give up,’ and then my heart is like, ‘you’re pumping for a reason,’ you know? She’s your reason.”

NSP has yet to provide an additional update on the crash since Saturday night, and representatives did not respond to questions 8 News Now asked on Monday. The victims’ identities have yet to be released and NSP has not confirmed if intoxication was a factor of the wrong-way driver.

“I don’t even know who to be mad at,” Jan said, referring to the lack of information provided on the investigation as of Monday morning.

While Swain and Jan continue grappling with their loss, they are doing what they can to keep Jaya’s “light” burning.

“She loved everybody. She didn’t even care if she knew you or not. She sees you, she would come up and hug you. She told everybody she loved them,” Swain said, her frown morphing into a smile while speaking of Jaya. “Mommy’s being strong for you. Daddy’s being strong for you. We your best friends. We’re always going to be your best friends.”

The Nevada Department of Transportation recently installed “wrong-way driver detection systems” at four interchanges in Southern Nevada, including directly next to this collision at US 95 at Durango. It is unclear if this was the access point the wrong way driver used to enter the freeway.

Jaya’s family created this GoFundMe to help cover her medical and their living expenses in the meantime.

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