Family facing second tragic loss as painful anniversary approaches

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ST. LOUIS – St. Louis police are investigating a car crash that has resulted in the death of 39-year-old Melissa Bassett.

She was trying to turn left from Jackson St. onto N. Broadway St. when a speeding Saturn Sky stuck her vehicle, according to police. The driver of the Saturn and a passenger left the scene. The crash happened on October 16. Bassett died after being hospitalized for several days.

The victim’s family is no stranger to heartache.

It was October 2019 when they gathered to pray for the recovery of Bassett’s daughter, 12-year-old Akeelah Jackson. During last year’s vigil involving family and friends, Bassett said, “All we’re asking today is just prayers.”

Jackson was hit by a St. Louis County police vehicle as she ran across Halls Ferry Road. She died after several weeks in the ICU of an area hospital. The officer is facing criminal charges in that case.

“I’m sure they haven’t even gotten over Akeelah’s loss and now they’re dealing with another tragedy,” said Genelle Jones, whose daughters attended school with Akeelah. “My heart goes out to the family.”

Tameka Guy, Bassett’s sister and Akeelah’s aunt, said all she wants right now is the driver who left the scene to be caught.

“It’s coming up on the anniversary of her daughter’s passing, so we’re just trying to get through it the best way that we can,” Guy said.

She takes some comfort in believing Akeelah and her mother have been reunited.

“It’s like God brought them back together,” Guy said.

“Our community really needs to get together, stick together and do better,” said Ketanna Fields.

She took her son and Akeelah to school on a regular basis. Fields said her family is still traumatized over Akeelah’s loss. This latest tragedy only adds to the grief.

“I know the family has to be hurting; we got to slow down,” Fields said.

Loleta Clayton lives nearby and believes too many drivers are speeding in St. Louis without consequences.

“I’m not surprised but it’s very tragic,” Clayton said.

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