Mourners came together Friday night in Dundalk to remember the life of Trinity Brooks, who was killed by a woman who drove her car onto the sidewalk.
Driving from his home in West Virginia back to Dundalk after learning his 15-year-old sister had been struck by a car and killed, Xavior Reinhardt had to pull over a couple of times because he was so upset.
But on Friday, as he spoke to dozens gathered for a candlelight vigil to remember Trinity Lynn Brooks, Reinhardt struck a note of grace and even forgiveness for the driver who was charged with negligent manslaughter.
Trinity “would not have wanted us to be angry,” he said. “Trinity was the kind of girl that would have found every reason in her heart ... to forgive this woman.
“I ask all of you to find it in your heart to not hate anybody in this situation," said Reinhardt, 20. “I just want you to remember the love that she had for everything.”
Police say the driver, Jennifer Jones, 30, of Millersville, was found unconscious with two empty bottles of whiskey and 92 mini-bottles of liquor on the passenger’s side floorboard. She told police she had been drinking since 10:30 a.m. and had her last drink five minutes before the collision, according to charging documents.
She had been northbound on Delvale Avenue around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in a rented 2006 Nissan Altima. She swerved into the southbound lane, striking Brooks, who was walking on the sidewalk near Martell Avenue, police said.
Jones then hit a tree, plowed through multiple fences in three back yards, only stopping after hitting a shed and fence in the backyard of a home in the 1800 block of Marshall Road, police said. She remains in custody without bond and faces additional charges, authorities said.
On Friday, Trinity’s family hosted the gathering on the darkened street where she was killed, tying bundles of balloons to a fence, lighting candles and sharing memories of the girl who liked to draw, ran track, loved animals and hoped to be veterinarian. Her parents, Victor Brooks and Tara Reinhardt, her two older and two younger brothers and their extended family were joined by friends and even strangers who wanted to express their condolences.
“That shows you how many people my granddaughter touched,” said her grandmother, Gennie Scarff.
“It’s amazing," Trinity’s brother, Austin Brooks, 22, said of the turnout. “It’s heartwarming.”
Jewel Agu, 15, and like Trinity a freshman at Dundalk High School, read a poem she wrote for her friend, and speaking to her: “Let your soul fly to infinity.”
After the vigil, clutching the composition book in which she had written the poem, she said she’d also written a song but couldn’t bring herself to share it just yet.
"I just had a lot of feelings I wanted to get out,” she said. “It’s been hard. Sometimes I would be trying not to cry in my class. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel real, it hits me so hard.”
At the time of the crash, Trinity had been walking home from the grocery store where she’d gone to get food for the family cat — she also had a huge turtle that she had found when it was a baby and took in — and ice cream.
“I had given her money to get me ice cream,” her 13-year-old brother Victor said. “I was going to go with her but I was cooking.”
Victor said Trinity seemed to be taking longer than she should have for a quick trip to the nearby grocery store. The family heard sirens and saw police cars, a neighbor knocked on their door and they ran to the scene.
Now her family is preparing to bury her; services will be held Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Connelly Funeral Home in Dundalk.
Her older brothers — Trinity also has a 12-year-old brother named Ethan — said they realize their anger only takes more out of them as they grieve her loss.
“It’s harder to be angry,” Xavior Reinhardt said. “It’s far harder on the heart.”
But, he added, it doesn’t mean the driver, Jones, doesn’t have to face what she is alleged to have done.