PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It should have been a perfect vacation for Thandiwe Baton-Stawson.

She had an invitation to spend the summer on Beaver Island on Lake Michigan with her friend Anna Rieker.

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The two girls from Pittsburgh would work for a family fishing business and go camping.

“It was everything a teenager’s mom could want for the summer – get out of the city, you have to take a ferry to the island,” Tracy Baton, Thandi’s mother, said.

But just before 11 p.m. Sunday, according to the Charlevoix County Sheriff, 16-year old Thandi, was killed in a rollover accident on the island. She died at the scene. The girls had been out stargazing that night.

“They went for a drive to the less inhabited part of the island to see the stars and I’m told it was a deer, and Anna swerved and the car rolled and Thandi died on impact,” Baton said.
Thandi’s friend, Anna, also 16, was the driver. She was injured in the accident.

“I spoke with Anna yesterday,” Baton said. “I told her she needed to take good care of herself and it wasn’t her fault.”

Thandi looked right through the camera lens. Beautiful, soulful, willowly and at 5-feet-9-inches tall, she walked through the world with passion and purpose.

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Creative and caring, she was a painter and a poet. Thandi would have been a junior at Allderdice High School in Squirrel Hill.

“I always thought that whatever she’d be would be amazing.”

Tracy became pregnant with Thandi when she was a Fullbright Scholar in Women’s Studies in South Africa. She visited a native healer who put hands on her belly and gave her child a name.

” ‘She will be the one who is beloved,’” her mother recalled. “So her name ‘Thandiwe’ means beloved and she was my beloved baby.”

Thandi is survived by her parents and two sisters, 12-year-old Maisha and 21-year-old Nia.

The viewing will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the Pittsburgh Mennonite Church at 2018 South Braddock Avenue in Swissvale.

A funeral service will be held there at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

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