Local News

Family keeps Wake Forest teen's spirit alive after fatal crash

Posted October 23, 2018 5:22 p.m. EDT
Updated October 24, 2018 4:31 p.m. EDT

— Erika and Dean Viall's daughter, Hannah, died in a single-car crash earlier this year.

"From the get go, we have never blamed the person driving," Erika Viall said.

The crash happened on Feb. 24, when a 15-year-old, who was a friend of Hannah's, was driving near Heritage Hills Way and Vodin Street in Wake Forest.

Viall was in the passenger seat.

"I got a call that Hannah had been in an accident," Dean Viall said.

The three teens were in a Jeep when the driver crashed into a tree.

"As soon as I got there, that's when I found out that she was in heaven," he said. "As a father, I often say she was not in pain. She entered heaven instantly and that's pretty special."

Another 15-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy were transported to a local hospital with injuries.

Hannah's parents now lean on their faith and memories of their daughter, who they say lived life to the fullest.

"I guess every time that I want to turn inward or get in a bad place, I just try to think of what Hannah would want for us, and knowing how she lived, and how she treated her family and friends, I don't want to disappoint her," Erika Viall said.

The couple started the L.I.V.E. (Loving, Including and Valuing Everyone) Like Hannah Foundation in their daughter's honor. They say Hannah would always go out of her way to offer a hug and a smile to strangers.

It is the same type of compassion her parents have shown toward Hannah's friend who was behind the wheel of the Jeep without a driver's license and survived the crash.

"It could have just as easily been Hannah driving and something just as horrible happen," Erika Viall said.

While she may be gone, Hannah's father said her legacy lives on.

"I say 'I love you' a lot more because, you never know, it could be your best friend, it could be someone you never seen again," Dean Viall said.

The LIVE Like Hannah Foundation will have its first fundraiser on Saturday morning at Capital Sportsplex. The proceeds will go toward scholarships in Hannah's honor.