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Posted on Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

U-M student killed crossing Plymouth Road remembered as hardworking, determined

By Kyle Feldscher

Friends of the 20-year-old University of Michigan student killed by a vehicle while crossing Plymouth Road last week are remembering her as a source of positive energy who was fighting to get where she wanted to go in life.


Sharita Williams

Facebook photo

Sharita Williams, a Clinton Township native, was about to enter her junior year at U-M when she died early Friday morning from injuries she suffered in a Wednesday afternoon crash. She was in a pedestrian crosswalk on Plymouth between Nixon Road and Traverwood Boulevard in Ann Arbor when she was hit.

Stephanie Johnson, a friend since Williams joined the cheerleading team in high school, said Tuesday Williams was working two jobs to help put herself through U-M. Johnson said Williams was a good friend who always made time for others, and was meant to be the social worker she was studying to become.

“If we were down, she would always talk to us — always with a smiling face, she was literally always smiling,” Johnson said. “She would talk about our feelings and problems, and she had a lot of problems, but she never talked about her problems. She always talked about you and helping you out.”

Williams was crossing Plymouth Road from south to north at a pedestrian crosswalk just before 3 p.m. Wednesday when she was struck by a green Chevrolet Cavalier. Witnesses told the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon lights at the crosswalk, which are activated by pedestrians, were flashing for at least 30 seconds before Williams was hit.

Police told Tuesday the driver of the Cavalier has been identified, but has not been arrested or cited in the crash to this point. Ann Arbor police Lt. Renee Bush said the investigation was still open as of Tuesday morning.

Williams met the same tragic end as her brother, Kenny, who died nearly two years ago after being struck by a car, Johnson said. The two siblings were very close and Kenny was like a father to Williams after their mother passed away.

Williams was taken to University of Michigan Hospital following the crash and was in critical condition until she died Friday morning. Even after hearing Williams was severely injured by the crash, Johnson knew her friend — a runner and determined student — wouldn’t go without a fight.

“She was a fighter, I knew when she was in the hospital she was fighting,” Johnson said. “She was a really, really strong person herself. She fought for everything she had, it was just God’s time to bring her with her brother and her mom.”

Johnson said many of Williams’ friends are coming together after her death and working to help out her family, including her aunt and uncle who took her and Kenny in after their mother passed away. A fundraiser has been set up to help with expenses for Williams’ funeral and friends are pitching in any way they can.

It’s the way Williams reacted after her brother’s death, Johnson said. Even though it was a tragic loss for her, Williams still lent a helping hand to many of her brother’s friends and organized events to remember him, such as a candlelight vigil.

“She stepped up as a sister and she was the one to be there for everybody, even though it was one of her toughest times,” Johnson said. “She was there for everyone else.”

Visitation for Williams is scheduled from 1 to 8 p.m. Friday at Cantrell Funeral Home, 10400 Mack Ave. in Detroit. Her funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Love Life Family Christian Center, 17363 Toepfer Drive in Eastpointe, preceded by a family hour at 10 a.m.

To donate to the fundraiser to help Williams’ family, click here.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

Wow. Didn't the same thing happen to another family almost the same way? Hate to say it you need to really be watching when in those things. Cars are not paying attention. Just like being in a round about, always know your surroundings.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

How about her father? I did not see anything mentioned about him.

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

Fester - I was told he was not in the family's life very much.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 6:18 a.m.

this sound like more of a family reunion now after reading about mother brother passing years ago , before i get voted down im just looking at this in positive way and trying to give words of hope that she most have gone to a better place like heave to be reunited . what more can say after horrible accident happens?


Sat, Aug 17, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

lets just think happy thoughts :) because everyday you turn on news something like this happens, someone get to a accident or hit by care. well family these days are often without fathers it seems.


Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 3:14 a.m.

just trying positive, something bigger is waiting for us on other side.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 12:44 a.m.

Of the 60 in Ann Arbor, how many were reported here? As long as the Ordinance stands, the City Council are directly responsible for this tragedy. Yes, GUILTY, and here is why: Their ordinance and it implementation are logically flawed - making it legally flawed. As Kestenbaum intimated, if the law doesn't make sense it is ignored. So, some do, some don't. It forces drivers to "accomodate" what is going on in the pedestrian's domain - the sidewalk. While that sounds real good in progressive city-think - in reality not. Demigods who don't get that are to blame. For this accident and Washtenaw. Sidewalks are safe havens for pedestrians. Not roads. Each domain has its own rules to deal with including personal responsibilities for their actions within - and out. Forcing drivers to anticipate pedestrians actions near the curb adds two logical wrongs. 1. Takes the operator's attention away from their own domain responsibility - the road -which in turn impacts the others there who depend upon him/her following their road rule set. Say one driver brakes because a sidewalk jogger jumps a puddle towards the crosswalk. The sudden braking for no visible reason to other drivers still impacts them all and dramatically adds risk of creating an accident. The burden of reaction and information processing skyrockets just because of one little "legal" pedestrian encroachment into the road domain. The law forced the braking action where there should have been none As long as the jogger stays on the sidewalk the road traffic should not be impacted. 2. Realizing the power of encroachment, the jogger pushes the RRF button and runs into the crosswalk. Logical err two. The jogger MUST ensure it's "safe" - First - this lady also failed to do that. The Ordinance says that too - but then negates any NEED to because of its encroachment flaw above making the operator responsible BEFORE any pedestrian "First". Criminal.


Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 4:14 a.m.

@Leslie Morris If my logic is wrong then the City Ordinance works just fine and should remain. from AAcom "The Cavalier struck Williams in the right lane as it went through the pedestrian crosswalk, witnesses said, and the driver of the vehicle did not appear to see Williams as she crossed the street. " Maybe your source was @Nicholas Urfe same page? "I spoke with a witness to the crash. This person said a couple of things that I have not read yet in the reports. According to this person, the driver was a woman of roughly the same age as the victim. The driver changed lanes from behind a stopped car just prior to hitting the victim." Presumeably the stopped car was in the right lane at the crosswalk and the accident in the left? The victim came to rest in the median also suggesting left. Either way, BY LAW, the pedestrian must assure that it is safe to cross before entering (calculate a most likely future sequence and then deem it safe before entering). Once in the crosswalk the vehicles must THEN, BY LAW, yield the right of way (which is doable because the pedestrian assured that was the case before crossing. The car was at fault because the pedestrian was then "legally" in the crosswalk. The rub City law says in effect to the pedestrian don't worry so much about the crossing safety assurance because we now make the operator responsible for all phases and put up signs and flashing lights so they can't say they didn't see the crosswalk or related activity.. Ignorance of a law is no defense, either. in reality life is very precious. The city has failed to protect it by supplanting pedestrian caution - one half of the logical State crosswalk law responsibility - with the expectation that drivers to do it all which here they clearly don't. .That is criminal negligence by the lawmakers if anyone is harmed as a result.. Yet if I am completely wrong. then Ann Arbor is safer. The max possible under the law.

Leslie Morris

Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

LXIX, you are completely wrong. The pedestrian was killed in the crosswalk because she was walking past a car whose driver had stopped to let her cross, since she had activated the flashing light indicating her wish to cross. The driver of the car behind this car chose to drive around the stopped car, and killed the girl in the middle of the crosswalk.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

@snark12 - the ordinance has everything to do with this accident - and up to 60 others.. @Perigrine - The student did not ensure it was safe to cross as is required by State law so the studen was thus at fault. The key problem is the local law which echos State law but then goes on to mistakenly force the driver to take responsibility for yielding PRIOR to crosswalk entry. The ordinance shifts the burden and fault across the sidewalk-road domain boundary to the driver. That was the entire intent of City Council. No hyperbole here. The pedestrian is now absolved and lured into a lethal situation because and only because the local ordinance makes it okay to cross since drivers must yield, irregardless. That is inhumane if not criminal. @ Veracity - Vehicle operators are responsible within reason. Carelessly "walk" into the road and the pedestrian is at fault even though drivers must stop. Back out of a driveway - still at fault. The key is when moving from one domain (sidewalk) to another (road) the transition must be safe. City law voids that through encroachment corruption. Criminal because it goes against everything people understand. Pointless chaos and destruction.

John Q

Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

I didn't think victim blaming posts were permitted.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 3:23 a.m.

It's a long-standing state law that says that a pedestrian lawfully in a crosswalk has the right of way. The local law states cars must stop for someone waiting at the curb to enter a crosswalk (and that such a person may not enter the crosswalk if the vehicles cannot safely stop in time). That was not an issue in this situation. So let's get this key fact straight and curb the hyperbole.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

Get a grip. The accident had nothing to do with the ordinance passed two years ago.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

I'm still feel horrible about this. What a shame. I hope we can fix the crosswalk problem in Ann Arbor. I'm not sure how but we have to try.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

Think of Sharita and her family when you think you have it tough. A mother and her two children all robbed of a chance to live long lives. Unbelievably tragic. Rest in peace, Sharita and Kenny.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

Devastatingly heart breaking! It's just not right that this happened! Many prayers


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

Kyle your awesome!! Thank you so much for sharing this with the public. Sharita would be proud to see that she has made a change to the way we think about things in life. Thanks again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to me and get to know more about Sharita


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 9:41 p.m.

What a tragedy that two siblings met the same fate. I have mixed feelings about the caution lights on Plymouth Rd. I drive on it frequently. The problems I see are some cars going too fast and the person who presses the switch for activation of the crossing light often will step out immediately. It looks like they do not take care to be sure the cars stop. Today a young man crossed in the crosswalk by Panera Bread. The lights were NOT flashing. Fortunately, we drivers saw him in time.

John Q

Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 10:26 a.m.

What do either of your comments have to do with this situation? The article states that the lights were flashing before she entered the roadway.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 11:23 p.m.

This is very sad that another person has been hit on Plymouth Road. I have also observed people activating the caution lights and immediately stepping off the curb into the roadway. A car going the speed limit that is fairly close to the caution light does not have enough time to stop. Pedestrians must use common sense and wait to be sure the traffic has actually stopped before they step into the road. I'm not trying to excuse the driver or blame this young woman, it is a fact that more caution is needed on both parties.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

Why would she be taken all the way to St. Joe's in Ypsilanti when she was just a few miles from UofM?

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

I'm sorry, that's a mistake on my part. She was, in fact, taken to UM.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

Kyle, Five days have passed since the tragic event. An accident report must have been filed and should be available to the public. What does the report state? If you have been reporting the details correctly I do not understand why an indictment for at least manslaughter has not been sought. Are we dealing with a minor behind the wheel whose record would be protected from public disclosure? Has the driver's license been seized or can the driver continue to operate vehicles on the streets of Ann Arbor?


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 3:17 a.m.

Hmmm, I recall a number of vehicular accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists reported at but I can not remember any that resulted in a five day (or more) delay in arrests and citations. Are drivers involved in accidents but not injured themselves usually interviewed after five days rather than soon after the accident when recall is most accurate? By the way, you did not answer my question as to whether the driver is still allowed to operate a vehicle legally within Ann Arbor.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

Veracity - You really answered your own question with the first part of your statement here. The investigation into this is still ongoing, it is my understanding that the driver needs to be interviewed before the case can be turned over to prosecutors, who will then determine if charges will be brought against the driver or not. As far as I could tell at the scene, the driver is not a minor. I believe we just need to let the police do their investigation and this will come out in time. My gut feeling is that it won't take very long, but accident investigations are very thorough.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

Thank you Kyle for reaching out to her friend Stephanie so that she could let us know something about this wonderful young woman and let us know that they are accepting donations. This story is too sad for words. I know you will keep us updated on the investigation.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

sound like she was a popular person.

Albert Howard

Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

"Williams met the same tragic end as her brother, Kenny, who died nearly two years ago after being struck by a car, Johnson said. The two siblings were very close and Kenny was like a father to Williams after their mother passed away"...Wow. In my heart of hearts I really want this pattern to be broken. May this never happen again in this family. RIP Ms. Sharita Williams

Woman in Ypsilanti

Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 7:55 p.m.

If there was ever a story that illustrates the concept that life is not fair, this one is it. That poor family to have two such tragic deaths. My heart goes out to them.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

And the Mother is decreased also. Praying for the remaining family members at this point in time.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

I look forward to hearing how the investigation turns out. I'd really like to know if the driver gets charged.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 6:11 a.m.

I cant image why he would not stop then again she may have came out of no where .


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

She sounds like an amazing young woman who would have done wonderful things with her life.. I have to wonder if perhaps the crosswalk light had been started by someone else who had already crossed and Sharita, noticing the light was still on, felt it was okay to cross. I ask due to the description in the article that the light had been flashing for 30 seconds prior to the accident.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 10:57 p.m.

Really? Is this the right venue to express such thoughts? Please, have some consideration for this young woman's family and friends.