YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – “Hundreds of people that have reached out, and that’s just to me, not even counting the rest of my family,” said Antwaine Rutland.
On February 29, 28-year-old Evianna Rutland lost her life in a car accident. Now, her friends, family and an entire community are feeling the impact of her loss.
“She was always that star, she was always the most popular person. Always the most loved individual, always the brightest star in the room,” said Antwaine, Evianna’s brother.
Evianna was the youngest of five siblings, the only girl.
“That was my baby, I mean the baby sister… No matter what, it was us. We had us no matter what,” said Chris Rutland, another one of her brothers.
Her brothers say she was always special, and different.
“She had that kind of heart that–even myself, I try to be a good person–but she had that kind of heart where I only hope that I can have a heart as big as hers one day,” Chris said.
After losing their mother three years ago, the Rutland family is now pulling together once again to find strength in this sudden tragedy.
“Our mother passed not even three years ago, and it was hard to get through, for her especially, and she finally became what my mother was,” Antwaine said.
However, they say the love and generosity Evianna displayed to so many people is evident in the amount of support they have received from people all over the city.
“Strangers that I never even met come up to me now. Like, ‘Your sister saved my life,’ or, ‘Your sister did this for me, your sister changed my life,’” Antwaine said.
“Even people that don’t know her, they’re very affected by it,” said Shanay Jacobs.
Shanay Jacobs was Evianna’s best friend. She said she was loving, caring and special.
“Evianna spoke life into me. Like, out of all my friends, and I’ve always said this, she uplifted me,” Jacobs said.
The day after her death, her family and friends gathered for a candlelight vigil in her memory.
Saturday, those close to her gathered together to sell dinners to raise money for her funeral service. In just two hours, they were nearly sold out.
Her brother Antwaine said one thing he hopes people take from her memory is to spread love.
“Love… Unconditional love. She loved everyone. No matter if they were white, black, brown, yellow, it doesn’t matter. If you were poor, rich. No matter what it was, she loves you for your soul for who you are,” Antwaine said.
One person has been arrested in connection to Evianna’s death.
Jacobs said there’s one message she hopes everyone will take from this.
“We have to stop drinking and driving, we have to,” Jacobs said.