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'She was just so talented and pure': Long-time friend remembers woman killed in crash

"She was just so talented and pure"; Long-time friend remembers woman killed in crash
Posted at 9:01 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 22:17:45-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The childhood friend of the young woman killed in a wrong-way crash on US-131 used the words “talented” and “pure” to describe her in an interview with FOX 17. 

On Tuesday, Michigan State Police identified the victim as 21-year-old Willow Rose Yon. The at-fault driver remains in the hospital in critical condition. 

“I personally never remember a moment where [Willow] wasn’t smiling or making somebody else laugh,” said Joelle Barreda. “She was just so talented and pure. She was friends with anybody she met.”

READ MORE: Victim killed in US-131 wrong-way crash identified

Barreda met Yon in elementary school. She had recently moved to Fowlerville from Kentucky and said Yon welcomed her with open arms. 

She was my first actual friend I made in Michigan,” said Barreda. “She was the first person that made that place feel like home for me.”

According to Barreda, the two remained close even after she had moved back to Kentucky. She says they had discussed seeing one another this upcoming summer.

“I plan on going back for the funeral services and that’s not the terms I wanted to have to go back to Michigan,” said Barreda.

According to family, Yon was a third-year Kendall Creative Art and Design student in Grand Rapids. KCAD picked her to design an ultraviolet light for sanitation of surgery rooms for hospitals.

Outside of school, she enjoyed 4-H and dancing. Family says she “rooted for the underdog and wanted to help everyone before herself.”

“We made a dance up to the song ‘Glad You Came’ by The Wanted,” said Barreda. “There’s a portion of the song that goes, ‘The sun goes down, the stars come out, and all that counts is here and now, my universe will never be the same, I’m glad you came.’ That’s how I feel about her right now. I feel like my universe will never be the same without her, but I’m glad that she was here and that I knew her. This pain is completely worth knowing her.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover funeral expenses and digitize videos and pictures of Yon.

To donate, click here.

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