A Norfolk birthday celebration ended in tragedy for 4 women; two died and another faces prison

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Jendaya Hunter’s 25th birthday started as a festive night as she went out to celebrate with her younger sister and a couple of friends.

But a fatal car crash in the early morning hours of May 2 ensured it would be the last birthday she would celebrate.

Hunter’s friend, Tahlia Ricks, drove her and her sister Jaspreet Hunter to a hookah lounge on Hampton Boulevard in Norfolk, then headed to Newport Avenue to pick up their 19-year-old friend Setaya Baker, according to a court document.

As Ricks’ drove her Nissan Altima south on Granby Street around 1:30 a.m., the group repeatedly asked Ricks to slow down, the document said. Concerned that Ricks had had too much to drink that night, Jendaya Hunter also asked if she could drive instead, her sister later told police.

Ricks, who was 21 at the time, responded, “No, I got it. I’m good. I’m not that drunk,” the document said.

Moments later, she lost control of her car while traveling across the Granby Street Bridge toward where it splits into Llewellyn Avenue. The sedan hit a utility pole, snapping the pole at its base. The car eventually came to a rest across both southbound lanes of Granby Street.

Jendaya Hunter and Baker, who were in the back seat, were pronounced dead a short time later. Jaspreet Hunter, the front seat passenger, was seriously injured, while Ricks suffered a sprained neck.

On Wednesday, Ricks pleaded guilty to aggravated involuntary vehicular manslaughter, involuntary vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving in Norfolk Circuit Court, according to court records.

Judge Jerrauld Jones agreed to allow the 22-year-old to remain free on bond until her sentencing in April. She faces up to 30 years in prison.

Ricks’ blood alcohol level tested at 0.12 percent after the accident, according to a statement of facts entered into evidence Wednesday. Police found open bottles of rum and vodka, and cans of Mike’s Hard Lemonade in the car, the statement said.

The Altima’s crash data recorder showed it was traveling at 58 mph at the time of the accident, the statement of facts said. The speed limit on that stretch of roadway is 25 mph.

Ricks immediately took responsibility for her actions and is devastated by all the pain she’s caused, according to her attorney, Emily Munn.

“She knows she’s going to prison and she accepts that,” Munn said.

Jane Harper, 757-222-5097, [email protected]

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