Lilliana was a brave, creative, imaginative, and thoughtful little girl. I used to call her my little engineer.
Always curious and always wanting to learn, which are great motivators to get your children to school. Most parents want their children to have access to education, no matter how big or small their children are. We strive and work so hard for our children to succeed, but we don’t realize we’re sending them to school with a false sense of security.
Lilliana paid with her life on a cold Friday morning. January 20th, 2017.
It’s been over one year, ten months, one week and two days since I heard Lilliana’s voice say, “Good morning, mommy”… since I’ve heard baby girl giggles permeate around me while Lilliana played with her twin sister, Tieranie… since Lilliana sat with her brother, Jayden, while he read her a book.
Lilliana may have been three years old, but she had plans for that day. We were supposed to go bowling and she was excited to try for the first time.
She didn’t get to do that.
On January 20th, Lilliana’s day didn’t last long, but it started off typical.
We woke up, made breakfast, and headed for school. We took Jayden to school, then after, I took the girls to St. Albert the Great — Wayne Metro Head Start.
Lilliana and I took Tieranie to her classroom, then after, I walked Lilliana to her class. I never would have guessed that would be the last day or time I’d be able to tell Lilliana that I loved her.
Lilliana was playing in the gymnasium. Sitting on the floor, Lilliana was playing with a ball when a 350-pound recalled table that was supposed to be removed in 2007 fell.
The safety mat snaps no longer worked. The mat had fallen and was lying on the floor since winter break, leaving no padding when the 350-pound, solid wood and steel table fell, dead-weight, crushing my three-year old little girl.
My daughter, Lilliana, was dead before she was even conceived.
My life is shattered. Everything has changed since that day, in every inconceivable way. I lost my little girl, my heart, a third of my family (present and future). My home is quiet. I’ve watched my children change. Jayden will look at photos and his facial expression changes and he’ll look down.
Jayden decided who would be Lilliana and who would be Tieranie. I’ve seen Tieranie take our picture frames and set them next to her for comfort as she eats, plays, watches TV or even when she falls asleep.
Children shouldn’t have to grow up too soon… not like that. Not ever.
These tables are still in numerous schools and buildings that provide education. Not only do a lot of our schools and educational facilities in Michigan have these tables, but most of them aren’t aware of the potential dangers they pose. Jayden’s middle school has these tables.
These tables are so old, the executive direction of education could not even identify the manufacturer’s name. I’m still waiting to find out when they’ll be removed.
For whatever reason, it’s unacceptable.
No parent should have to send three children to school and only have two walk out alive. No parent, after the fact, should have to worry if their children will survive their day in school.
I live with that every day. I still have to send my son Jayden and daughter Tieranie to school.
Multiple systems failed Lilliana and my family. These same systems are still in place as we send our children to school, and while I speak here today. Lilliana’s death is not unique to the state of Michigan. Within the last 25 years there has been at least 11 deaths on the east coast. One in Ohio where Jarod’s law was enacted and later repealed in 2009.
In the past decade, Lilliana was the second child to die in the state of Michigan due to these tables. One child too many… by something so preventable.
Experts say that you can bolt a piece of wood or metal across the table while in the up position that would lock them down permanently, costing 25 dollars in materials per table.
Lilliana should be five years old now. She should be in kindergarten. Lilliana has missed two birthdays, two Halloweens, two Thanksgivings, and nearly two Christmases, and countless more.
Lilliana can never be the person should could have been. She’ll never grow up, never go to prom, never graduate, never go to college. It was all ripped away by the same institutions that were supposed to help provide it for her.
Lilliana should be alive today. My baby should be happy and healthy and not a law.
Lilliana was a little girl… my little girl.
Today, I am Lilliana’s advocate. I’m asking you today to help prevent another catastrophic tragedy for another family. I’m here to plead with you to help make the change to protect our most vulnerable…
To protect our children from more school related deaths or serious injury, otherwise, Lilliana’s death will be in vain.
I appreciate you reading my testimony today, even though my words are insufficient to describe what Lilliana’s death has done to my family.