Grandmother of young crash victim: “This system failed her miserably.”

MUNCIE, Ind. (WTHR) – Six-year-old Taelyn Woodson’s family is still making funeral arrangements to lay her to rest. The little girl died Sunday in a crash along the Muncie Bypass where a small memorial, a white wooden cross and some flowers, mark the site.

Taelyn’s mom, 28-year-old Jessica Skeens remains in jail, facing charges of drunk driving causing the death of her daughter, along with neglect. Police say Skeens had been drinking when she rolled her van into a ditch with her four children and boyfriend inside.

Investigators say Skeens’ boyfriend, Nathaniel Jordan was fighting with her, punching her in the head, which also contributed to the crash.

Jordan is also behind bars.

For Kathy Parris, the maternal grandmother to Taelyn and her younger the siblings, the focus is not only on burying a grandchild, but getting custody and caring for the other three who survived.

Parris was in family court today, seeking custody of her three grandchildren, ages two to five. She says her granddaughter paid with her life because of the poor choices Taelyn’s mother made.

“I love my daughter, but in no way shape or form will I ever condone what she has done here or make excuses for her, whatsoever,” said Parris.

It was straight talk from a grieving grandmother who has no problem saying her own daughter is partly responsible for Sunday’s tragedy.

“She’s stubborn. She wouldn’t listen and this is the end result and she has to live with that,” said Parris. “My daughter wasn’t making good choices.”

Parris said has only seen her daughter once in the hospital, in the hours following the crash.

“My exact words to her were, ‘What do you have to say for yourself?'” Parris recalled of their conversation. “And she says, ‘There’s nothing I can say.’ She was crying. She was upset and I said, ‘You have to live with what you’ve done,’ and I walked away.”

Parris is now determined to get permanent custody of Taelyn’s younger siblings, Parris’ remaining grandchildren.

“I’m standing here and I will do whatever I have to do for my grandbabies,” said Parris outside of family court in Muncie.

Parris said she’d always feared something would happen to one of her grandchildren, because her daughter was not a stable parent, at one point moving her kids to Florida and leaving them in the care of people who drank and used drugs.

Parris says she hired a lawyer three years ago to try and get custody of her grandchildren, but dropped the case when she thought her daughter was finally getting her life together.

When that didn’t happen, Parris says she tried to get help through Child Protective Services both in Florida and Indiana, but says no one listened.

“Nobody cared, no matter how many complaints, no matter what pictures,” said Parris. “The drugs, the alcohol, all of it.

“Nobody listened and my grandbaby paid the price to save the other three. This is what happened,” Parris continued. “My grandbaby is now dead. This system failed her miserably.”

A friend of Skeens, Aly Scrambling, made the drive from Florida to support Parris and Taelyn’s siblings. The hours-long drive after hearing the news of the crash that killed the 6-year-old was an emotional one.

“It was hard. It was really hard,” she said.

But she did it for the three survivors of a car crash that took their sister’s life.

“That’s my baby,” Scrambling said. “I love her more than…oh, God, I love her more than I love life. More than I can breathe. Those kids are everything to me.”

She says she knew the children’s mother had made some bad decisions in life, but never expected this.

“I never, never in my life dreamed that this would be the consequence,” she said.

Scrambling says her friend is “blaming herself a lot” for the crash.

“It’s hard for me to lose someone that I love and they’re not even my child, so I can’t even imagine what she’s going through right now,” she said.

The women met when they both lived in Florida. They worked together.

Aly calls Jessica “Jinx,” loves her friend’s kids and came to help Parris answer her grandchildren’s questions.

“You find a way to answer it as honestly, but also as delicately, as possible,” she said. “Instead of taking it one day or hour at a time, you have to take one second at a time.”

In just a few days, Aly would have been in Indiana visiting Taelyn on vacation.

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