9-year-old who 'loved life' dies moments after taking first-day-of-school photo

Maggie Parker
A 9-year-old was killed on her way to her first day of school.
A 9-year-old was killed on her way to her first day of school.

Moments after posing for a photo to celebrate her first day of fourth grade, Payton Lynn Crustner was tragically killed in a car accident.

The two-vehicle crash occurred Tuesday morning in Rusk County, Texas. Miranda Michelle Clark, 32, was driving a 2017 Nissan Sentra with her 16-year-old son, 9-year-old daughter, Payton, and a 3-year-old child in the car, according to state troopers. Clark’s car collided with a 2016 GMC Sierra pickup, with 18-year-old Marcus Wayne Dukes behind the wheel, KYTX reported.

Clark, her 16-year-old son, and the 3-year-old were taken to the hospital, but Payton was removed from the vehicle and died on the scene, according to KYTX. The 16-year-old is on life support in the hospital, LeAndria Starr, a friend of the family, told Yahoo Lifestyle.

Ten minutes earlier, Clark took a photo of her daughter smiling and holding a sign commemorating her first day of fourth grade, according to Starr.

Starr created a fundraiser for the family on Facebook, with a goal of raising $10,000 to cover the family’s funeral expenses for Payton. As of Thursday afternoon, Starr is nearly halfway there. “I started the fundraiser just because I felt the need to do something to help this family with a burden while Payton’s brother is still on life support,” Starr told Yahoo Lifestyle. “Medical costs will be coming, and a funeral can cost several of thousands of dollars as well. And the last thing the family is thinking about or should be thinking about is how they are going to cover this cost.”

Starr described Payton as “a sweet, outgoing kid that loved life.”

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.