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'She was special': Valley family mourning the loss of 2-year-old girl in wrong-way crash

The family of 2-year-old Nianee Card, who was killed in a wrong-way crash Monday night in Tempe, said they are heartbroken.

TEMPE, Ariz. — A family is grieving the death of their first grandchild following a wrong-way, head-on collision on Monday in Tempe.

The 2-year-old was identified as Nianee Brielle Card, whose family said was the light of their life.

“She would look at you and smile and all the pain and everything would just go away,” said the toddler’s father, Donnell Card, with tears rolling down his face. “She was special, and it was like you almost knew she wasn’t going to be here for long.”

Nianee was Card’s first and only daughter. On her first birthday, she crawled into a playhouse during the celebration and came out walking, he recalled.

“That was the first time she started walking and pranced around,” said Sherida Carr, Nianee’s grandmother. “Strangers that we didn’t even know were snapping pictures of her and she just knew she was a princess.”

Credit: Donnell Card

RELATED: 2-year-old and adult man dead after wrong-way crash in Tempe, police say

The family said it was the toddler’s infectious smile and giggles that will leave a lasting mark on them.

“Nianee was the life of our family,” said the baby’s great aunt, Tiwyla Spencer. “She [brought] the brightness, she was the reason why we smiled every single day.”

On Monday at around 11:30 p.m., Nianee was killed in a wrong-way car crash. Tempe police said she was not restrained.

Investigators said the toddler’s 17-year-old uncle was allegedly impaired while driving a black vehicle in the wrong direction along the northbound lanes of Price Road, just south of Southern Avenue.

Authorities said the teen's vehicle collided head-on with a white car. Nianee and 17-year-old Aldous Harris died as a result of the crash.

Harris was a senior at McClintock High School. Detectives said he was in the passenger seat, possibly not wearing a seat belt.

The uncle and Nianee’s mother survived the accident, their family said they are both still at a hospital recovering from their injuries.

“He loves his niece very very much and he would not put [her], himself, his friend, and his sister in harm’s way whatsoever,” said Lisa Jones, the 17-year-old driver’s great aunt.

Authorities are still investigating what lead up to the accident, but the family hopes their tragedy is a lesson for other drivers.

“We may take things for granted, we are just running to the store and around the corner, but you never know when tragedy may happen,” said Carr. “People make mistakes, that could be [a] life-long lesson, not just for young people, but for all of us.”

Police said the 23-year-old woman driving the white car sustained non-life-threatening injuries and is recovering at a hospital.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with Nianee’s funeral expenses.

“There’s not a day that’ll go by that she’s not going to be in our hearts,” Carr said.

RELATED: Wrong way driver hospitalized after crashing into two other cars on Tempe freeway

RELATED: Deadly Loop 202 crash in Chandler caused by driver going wrong way on highway, police said

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