Canyon County

7-year-old killed in Canyon County rollover ‘wasn’t afraid to die,’ mom says

A memorial photo shared by Aiyanna Whiteaker’s mother, Robi.
A memorial photo shared by Aiyanna Whiteaker’s mother, Robi.

When Aiyanna Whiteaker’s grandmother died last year, her mom, Robi Whiteaker, struggled with overwhelming grief. But Aiyanna saw the silver lining: She would be reunited with her grandma one day.

“I remember her asking, ‘Mommy, are you afraid to die?’ ” Robi recalled. “She said, ‘I’m not afraid to die because my grandma will be there.’ 

Robi says that thought has given her some comfort after Aiyanna, 7, was killed in a rollover crash near the intersection of Notus and Red Top roads in Canyon County on Saturday afternoon.

“I want to think in my heart that my baby was not alone when this happened and my mom just took her home,” Robi said.

Aiyanna was on her way to Golden Corral for lunch with Martha Booth, whose grandson, Codi Hammar, is Robi’s boyfriend. According to an Idaho State Police news release, Booth overcorrected her pickup truck after driving off the left shoulder of the road, rolling the car around 1:30 p.m.

“As with all fatal crashes, we are taking this case very serious. Currently, we are meticulously gathering and evaluating all the evidence in this case,” said Idaho State Police Capt. Bill Gardiner. “Also, we are working closely with the prosecuting attorney’s office to help provide them the necessary information they need to decide how to proceed.”

Robi remembers her daughter’s “crazy cute grin” on Saturday afternoon as she asked to go on the outing with Hammar’s grandparents. Robi said she didn’t know the trip would be just Aiyanna and Booth, who was taken to Saint Alphonsus by air ambulance after the crash. According to Robi, Booth has “several surgeries ahead of her.”

Robi said Booth broke both legs and her neck, and has required blood transfusions. A Saint Al’s spokesman said Booth was in critical condition Tuesday afternoon. According to ISP, neither Booth nor Aiyanna had seat belts on during the crash.

Robi described Aiyanna, a second-grader at Parma’s Maxine Johnson Elementary School, as a lover of music, drawing and all things creative. She loved spending time at Boise Creative Center drawing, painting and writing stories. Most recently, Robi said, Aiyanna wrote a story about the family dog, Stormy, who died two weeks ago.

“It just broke Aiyanna’s heart. She wrote a story about how her best friend could go be in heaven with grandma,” she said.

Aiyanna also frequently went to local shows with her mother, where she endeared herself to musicians in the Boise music scene. Some of those friends set up a GoFundMe account in order to raise funds for funeral costs. Others are hosting a benefit concert at The Shredder, 410 S. 10th Street, on Nov. 19.

Robi said her daughter grew close to musicians such as the guitarist of Pop Overkill, who goes by Shayne Doe, who would chat with her about music or keep an eye on her when her parents needed a hand.

“Aiyanna would go to school and say her baby sitter was a rock star,” Robi said.

Inspired by local punk musicians like Jimmy Sinn, who first sparked Aiyana’s interest in music, the 7-year-old dreamed of becoming a drummer. She even “filled in” at a house show when a band’s drummer failed to show up, telling friends at school the next day about her musical chops.

The outpouring of support from the music community and on social media has been bittersweet, Robi said. It’s comforting to have people reach out but “nothing’s going to fill that void.”

“It just breaks my heart that I don’t have that anymore,” Robi said. “But it makes me so happy that she had that big an impact in her little life.”

Nicole Blanchard: 208-377-6410, @NMBlanchard

Cynthia Sewell contributed.