Local News

Mother of Shaw student killed in pedestrian accident: 'She got her wings'

Posted September 7, 2015

— A Shaw University cheer jacket is now one of Rosie Verdell's most cherished possessions.

The jacket belonged to Verdell's daughter, Keyona Charlissa Verdell, who died Sunday morning after being hit by a car while walking on New Hope Church Road in north Raleigh.

"I'm going to hold on to this jacket because, from middle school all the way to college, it represents her – going that far, and she did what she loved," a grieving Rosie Verdell said Monday in an exclusive interview with WRAL News.

Keyona Verdell, 22, was riding in a vehicle when she insisted on getting out and walking shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday. Police said her friends tried to persuade her to get back in the vehicle, but she refused and was hit by a passing car.

It's unclear why the junior business administration and management major got out of the car. Her friends told WRAL News on Sunday that there was no argument but that she was upset and wanted out.

A man told a 911 dispatcher, "She was intoxicated. She was walking home."

Rosie Verdell said the two friends in the car told her that Keyona wanted to go the store but they didn't want to at that hour. She said her daughter had a very strong will, so it didn't surprise her she decided to get out and walk.

She said she last spoke to her daughter Saturday night, and she regrets missing a call from her early Sunday.

"Unfortunately, the night it happened, she called me about 1:17, 1:18 in the morning. but we were sleep," she said.

Several hours later, the phone rang again in Rosie Verdell's Winston-Salem home, and one of Keyona's friends was on the other end.

"She said, 'Ms. Rosie, I need for you to come down. Something terrible has happened,'" Rosie Verdell recalled.

Rosie Verdell's son, Xzavier Rivers, got to WakeMed first, and he called her to let her know Keyona had died.

"She wouldn't have wanted to walk in there not knowing nothing, so I called her immediately and let her know that she's gone," Rivers said.

Police charged the driver of the car that hit Keyona Verdell, Dimas Martinez-Ismal, 32, with operating a vehicle without a license. No charges have been filed in connection with her death.

In a 911 call released Monday, a man can be heard angrily asking someone over and over how he could have run over Verdell.

"How'd you not see her, bro? She had that bright dress on. How'd you not see her?" the man said.

Police charged Terrence Archibald, 29, who was driving the car Verdell exited, with simple assault and damage to property in connection with a brief altercation after the accident in which Martinez-Ismal's cellphone was broken.

Funeral arrangements haven't been set, but Shaw plans to hold a memorial service on campus this week.

Rosie Verdell said she plans to remember her daughter's life and not how she died.

"She was a very beautiful person inside and out," she said. "She would say, 'Momma, I'm going to take care of you.' So, I guess, in her saying she's going to take care of me, she got her wings, and you know, it's more than one way of taking care of someone."


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  • Sheila Easton Sep 8, 2015
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  • Corey Pittman Sep 8, 2015
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    So according to some of you she is at fault for walking while intoxicated but you vindicate the driver who hit her even though he didn't have a driver's license? And i'm sure none of you saints criticizing the woman who passed have ever been drunk in your life either??? And for those getting on the mother about knowing her daughter's whereabouts, this person was 22 yrs old and a grown woman so just stop with the ignorant comments!

  • Sheila Easton Sep 8, 2015
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    Yes I'm sure the driver was on parole and the female passenger had outstanding warrants. No surprise they "declined to appear on camera" Too bad the police weren't allowed to run their names or give them blood tests

  • Casey Lyon Sep 8, 2015
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    being a law abiding citizen and being a good mother has nothing to do with race, i guess wral needs to pull this story off its website pretty quick before any more new revelations

  • Casey Lyon Sep 8, 2015
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    well looks like the angel got her wings clipped and good job to the mother for knowing where her beloved daughter was all night

  • Neaven Armstrong Sep 8, 2015
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    I'm very disappointed. WRAL why would you allow a post to remain on this web page that demonizes this young lady. Their commits are racially driven, cynical and disrespectful. #NOLONGERAFANOFWRAL

  • Bob Jackson Sep 8, 2015
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    Maybe this adds more to the story

    from the NC Court Calander

    Arraigned Offenses for Case Number: 2015200052 CR
    Arraigned Defendant Name: VERDELL,KEYONA
    County: WAKE
    Court Date: 10/07/2015
    Session: AM
    Court Room: WCJC

    Offense Code Description Statute
    5405 Traffic DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED 20-138.1 9955 Traffic CIVIL REVOCATION DR LIC (30) 20-16.5

    my kids would not be out at the clubs at 6am,sorry

  • Gabrielle Williams Sep 8, 2015
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    some of you are really crude and nasty. Why should her mom not believe her baby has wings. Ray I pray you never feel this mothers grief. Ms. Rosie May your Daughter Rest in Peace.

  • Ray Lee Smythe Sep 8, 2015
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    Why does her mother assume her daughter got her wings? Ever notice how people assume their loved one went to Heaven after they passed? Don't even get me started on the sending prayers up crowd. Do they really?

  • Knakenja Wells Sep 8, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    You should be ashame of yourself, how trashy can you be . Please dont be extra behind a screen . May this young lady rest in peace