Mom & Teen Daughter Drown While Fleeing After Robbery Attempt

floodWhenever a teenager dies, the words "senseless" and "tragic" come to mind, but these words are particularly appropriate in the case of 16-year-old Riana Tarell Johnson. Riana and her mother, Gracie, both drowned in the flood waters rushing through Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday afternoon ... as they fled a Burlington Coat Factory where they tried to steal $39 worth of merchandise.

Riana died because of a crime she was pulled into by her mother, and what was at stake? Some underwear and a handful of costume jewelry. This was a crime so petty that it wasn't even worth the effort to begin with.

I think the worst part of the whole thing is that her mother could have saved her ... but she chose not to.


I don't mean that Gracie could have somehow pulled her daughter from the raging waters; clearly she wasn't much of a swimmer herself. But when she realized that they were being apprehended, rather than lead Riana into the flood (which was a really poor choice of escape route, by the way), she could have stepped up and taken responsibility for the crime herself.

Because even if Riana did hide a pair of earrings in her pocket or whatever else (that's just a hypothetical example; we don't have details on who took what), she was not the guilty party here. The blame lies solely with her mother for not just exposing her child, a minor, to illegal activity, but enlisting her help in the theft.

Gracie never should have gotten her child involved in this pathetic heist in the first place, but she could have at least saved her innocence -- and, as it turns out, her life -- in those final moments. Instead, Gracie ran like a coward, and now she and Riana are both dead.

Why do you think a mother would risk her child's life for a petty crime?

Image via marnanel/Flickr

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