Grieving Family Speaks After Tragic Death of Their Loved One

Wednesday night, Joanne Smith was unloading her car, which was parked at Northwest Radial and North 51st. That's when police say a distracted driver hit her, severing both her legs.

Joanne's sister, Linda Smith, says, "When somebody tells you that your relative has lost their legs, you can't understand that. You don't believe that. It's like, that's not possible and that accident was just too weird."

Smith's family says they're still in disbelief but are coming to terms with their loss. They say they're very grateful that some of their final moments with Joanne, were happy ones. Another sister, Stephanie Smith, recalls soothing Joanne with song.

She explains, "You know, there were some high notes I couldn't hit and she was like, 'Get it!' And I'm like, 'I can't get that!' But she was there. She was alert and she was her old self for a minute, and that gave us hope that she might pull through."

Sunday night, however, Joanne moved on. Despite their pain, the family wishes no ill will toward the woman responsible.

Stephanie says, "When we were asking for prayers for our family, we asked that they pray for her family as well, because in a moment of distraction, she ruined not only our family, she ruined her own family, too."

Both sisters do have a message for the general public, though.

Linda asks, "What are you people doing when you're driving? Why aren't you paying attention? You are controlling a vehicle that can become a weapon. You have to be aware of what you're doing."

The driver, Lawanda Cook, 41, says she had looked away from the road when reacting to the noise of something hitting her floorboard. Omaha police say Cook had initially told them it was her cell phone, however, Cook denies it ever was.

Charges against Cook are still pending.

The Smith's do have a benefit fund set up at all Great Western Bank locations. Direct any donations to the fund for Joanne Smith.