JACKSON, Miss. — She had to say goodbye to her daughter 15 years ago. On Feb. 26, she said goodbye a second and last time.
“She was walking home,” Starkishia Bolding said of her daughter, Irina Gutierrez. “She had just been out walking.
“I was outside on my back porch smoking a cigarette. I heard sirens. That’s how I knew something was going on. It was close to the house. My husband, we got in our vehicle to find out where the sound was coming from.”
She traveled a short distance from her Mississippi home where she found law enforcement on the scene.
“I got out and walked up to the police,” Bolding said. “There was a lady standing there.
“I asked her what happened. I told her my daughter was down here earlier.”
Bolding said the woman stepped aside and asked if that was her daughter’s hat on the ground. It was Irina’s pink bonnet.
“When I saw it I ran over to the ambulance and looked in the back window and she was laying on the stretcher,” Bolding said.
According to the Rankin County Sheriff’s office, Gutierrez, 17, was walking in or near a bicycle lane and was struck by a vehicle about 6:55 p.m. The driver fled the scene. Gutierrez was transported to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
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It’s a pain few have experienced
The loss of a child is said to be the worst pain a mother can feel, but for Bolding it’s a pain few have experienced.
As a young mother she faced challenges. In 2004, her husband at the time was deported to Mexico. Pregnant and feeling she had nowhere else to turn, she went as well. But life wasn’t easy.
She said she couldn’t provide for her two young children so she made the decision to leave them with a relative of her husband, move back the U.S. and reunite with the children when she was more financially stable. Little did she know it would be 15 years before she saw them again.
Bolding said she was able to stay in contact with family members in Mexico by phone, but soon her calls went unanswered.
Bolding said she tried to find her children with no success for more than a decade, but two years ago a young girl from Mexico contacted her through social media. It was her daughter. On Nov. 13, Bolding was reunited with her children.
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‘She was a perfect kid’
“It took strength to run away from a life she knew to a life she didn’t know, but I got to bring my baby home,” Bolding said.
And her baby had grown into a special person.
“She was very kind and gentle,” Bolding said. “She was so sweet.”
“She was a perfect kid. Once she knew who I was she wanted to be with me every moment. She said she loved her life. She laughed hysterically and had a beautiful smile. She was everything good. Everybody loved her.”
Family members said Gutierrez made good grades despite the language barrier. According to her obituary, she worked at a restaurant and planned to attend college to become a veterinarian or cardiologist.
But the dreams, laughter and smiles ended too soon. On Wednesday, Gutierrez was laid to rest.
“It’s an amazing story and then to bring her here to be killed,” Bolding said. “Now, I’m waiting on the police to find who did this.”
A GoFundMe account has been opened on Bolding’s behalf to offset funeral expenses.
Follow Brian Broom on Twitter: @BrianBroom