A Mother’s Love
By: Anne Kimmel and Lois Benjamin
David and Sharree 20 minutes before their lives were taken.
Thank you, officers, in advance.
Thank you for your protection.
Thank you for stopping every person you see driving erratically or speeding or drunk.
We thank you, officers, for preventing the excruciating and relentless heart ache that we go through every day and will for the rest of our lives.
Though the tragic loss of our children happened 2 years ago on March 2nd, 2019. Our grief does not lessen with time. Time just serves to separate us more and more from the joyful laughter and intimate conversations and sweet touch of our dear Sharree and David.
David and Sharree met in Philadelphia, both having gone to and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. They each ended up in New Orleans: David, for Tulane Law and for his 11/11/2017 marriage in Audubon Park, and Sharree, to participate in fellowship as Assistant Director of the New Orleans YMCA. She eventually landed a job running a non-profit dedicated to helping millennials become philanthropists. David moved on to practice law in Seattle, WA.
David was visiting NOLA for a good friend’s wedding. His new wife, Jorie, was flying out from Seattle where they’d moved, the next day to join him. Sharree had lived in NOLA for the past 5 years. Both David and Sharree gathered at a mutual friends’ house to celebrate Mardi Gras and later attend the Endymion Parade. They were bicycling with these same friends after the parade.
Their sweet lives were cut short, by the blunt force of a speeding car going over 80 mile an hour, driven like a weapon through a throng of people riding bikes in the bike lane, including David and Sharree and their friends. Seventeen times, over six blocks, Tashonty Toney hit a person, a bike or a car before crashing his own car and then running away on foot. He did not escape and was arrested. March 2nd was his 32nd birthday. He was 4 times over the legal limit at 8pm night. He was high on Tequila and tranquilizers (admitted by his own testimony). March 2nd, he sent 5 people into critical care at the hospital. March 2nd, he killed handsome 31-year-old David Hynes and beautiful 27-year-old Sharree Walls.
Sharree and David were the young people who you wanted to inherit the world because, after spending just a few minutes with either of them, you knew that they would make the world a better place. They were absolute overachievers that had an incredible zest for life while fully and faithfully invested in the lives of others. They enjoyed volunteering and, interestingly enough, both worked with the Lafitte Greenway, dedicated to creating safe bicycle trails in New Orleans. The outpouring of love and support from colleagues, friends and family remains incredible and a testament of the love they gave and the lives they lived.
Tashonty Toney is now behind bars until well into his sixties. The amount of pain he caused to those he hit, and to friends and family who loved the two sweet young souls just starting their lives who he killed, to his family and to himself is just incalculable. We really had no idea that grief could be this penetrating and this relentless.
We’d like to thank the NOLA officers who professionally, diligently, and relentlessly worked this case supporting us along the way. We will be eternally grateful for their hard work and the compassion they showed to our families.
So, we encourage you and thank you in advance for the lives you will save through your good service in diligently watching for drivers who should not be on the road. In response to the much-publicized cry of “Defund the Police”, we know that policing is vitally necessary, acknowledge the many difficult duties at hand to keep us all safe, and we fully support your efforts to broaden the training and get the assistance you need to respond effectively to the diverse needs of people who show psychologically abnormal or aberrant behavior. Clearly Tashonty Toney’s behavior demonstrated, and the judge stated, that he was not just drunk, he was psychopathic.
We appreciate what you have done in the past and, though it cannot be measured, for the sorrow you have prevented in this world. We, as mothers who shoulder the heavy burden of loss, the senseless loss, of our exquisite children, thank you from the bottom of our broken hearts.
Anne Kimmel (Mother of David Hynes)
Lois Benjamin (Mother of Sharree Walls)