Three years later, Meriden mother still grieves loss of children and boyfriend; remembrance event to be held Saturday at City Park

Three years later, Meriden mother still grieves loss of children and boyfriend; remembrance event to be held Saturday at City Park

Record-Journal


MERIDEN — A bushel of flowers was not enough for Baughnita Leary to place on the graves of her two children and boyfriend on Wednesday, the day before the third anniversary of their deaths in a highway crash that Leary survived.

She loaded up her car with 30 baskets of purple and yellow mums and white daisies, arranging them in a heart shape above the graves on the hill at Walnut Grove Cemetery.

“The last year I will say has been the hardest year of all three years,” Leary said. “There’s no more funerals, there’s no more waiting for headstones...I’m missing them so much more. I’m waking up and reaching for them and they’re not there and wishing it was a dream and it’s not.”

Leary was driving home with her family on Oct. 12, 2014 on Interstate 95 in Waterford when her car was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer, claiming the lives of her children Sanaa Reynolds, 9, and Dacari Robinson, 3, and her boyfriend Darin Robinson, 26.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, Gerard Dube, 62, has pleaded not guilty to three charges of felony misconduct with a motor vehicle, as well as reckless driving and following too closely. Family members had previously opposed a plea deal for Dube, whose case is in the pre-trial phase. He is scheduled to appear at New London Superior Court on Oct. 18.

The last year has been one of self discovery for Leary, 28, whose life up until the crash was defined by motherhood. Two years ago visiting the cemetery was a daily occurrence, but she has since cut back to once or twice a week.

“I’ve only known to be a mom for nine years so now it’s like what do I do now? Where do I start?” Leary said. “How do I keep their memory and also find myself?”

While continuing to cope has been painful, the last year has also been marked by strides in her recovery from severe head trauma sustained in the crash. In the first year after the accident, Leary said it took her a year to read a single book, having to re-read passages several times.

So far this year she has already read two and is working on a third.

Leary plans to go back to school to become a grief counselor.

“I’ve never found anyone who has lost as much as I’ve lost and can help me through this,” Leary said. “Who better than me to help somebody else in this situation?”

Since the accident, Leary has hosted give back events in the city in memory of her two children. The annual event will be held Saturday at City Park from 1-4 p.m., featuring food, children’s entertainment, community groups, vendors and a remembrance ceremony. Children at the event can participate in games at “Dacari’s sports center” or get nail and hair treatments from “Sonaa’s glam squad.”

They will also be collecting clothes and toys for victims impacted by recent hurricanes.

“So Sanaa and Dacari’s names aren’t just in Meriden,” Leary said. “They are going to be everywhere.”

ltauss@record-journal.com 203-317-2231 Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ


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