One of the victims killed in a horrific crash Saturday night by a man suspected of driving drunk was a lawyer who had just moved from New Orleans to Seattle but was back in town for Mardi Gras, according to relatives.
Another was a young and up-and-coming director of a philanthropy organization was was described by friends as a "joyful spirit" and a "real light."
The lawyer, David Hynes, 31, had just married Jorie Kirschbaum Hynes, according to his mother-in-law, Patti Kirschbaum.
"Oh my God, they just got married a year ago," Kirschbaum told The New Orleans Advocate when reached by phone on Sunday. "He was going to be there for a few days only. And she was going to meet him in New Orleans."
The second victim was Sharree Walls, 27, a young professional who had recently worked her way up to become executive director of Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans, friends confirmed. She was in her 10th month in the job at the organization, which provides financial support for projects in underserved communities.
Andy Kopplin, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, called Walls' death a "devastating loss."
"She just had a joyful spirit that was both inspiring and infectious," Kopplin said.
“We’ve lost a real light,” said David Robinson-Morris, chairman of the EPNO board. “Our hearts at EPNO are extremely heavy to the point that it’s not even consolable at this point. We were looking forward to everything she was going to do."
At least six of the nine bicyclists hurt or killed in the wreck on Esplanade Avenue in the Faubourg St. John neighborhood were associated either professionally or through a shared interest in environmental justice causes, according to family members and other sources. Walls also worked with the group Friends of Lafitte Greenway, as did several of the others injured in the accident.
On Sunday, Hynes' mother confirmed that her son knew at least two of the other victims who were injured. She said she didn't want to believe the news, but was forced to confront it when the coroner's office called her.
"I just did not want it to be my sweet child," Anne Kimmel said tearfully. "He was such a sweet, sweet boy."
Kimmel described her son as happy and "so full of life." He and his wife had just moved into a three-bedroom apartment, she said, to make room for their newly adopted dog and, perhaps, a child. She also said he had recently become more cautious than he had been in years prior, and credited the behavior to his wife.
"His life was just starting," she said. "He wasn't reckless anymore, because he was in love with his wife."
Hynes had been working as an associate in the Seattle office of the law firm Selman Breitman, according to online records. He specialized in insurance, commercial litigation and environmental law.
Before joining Selman Breitman, Hynes worked as staff counsel for State Farm, in the insurer's New Orleans and Seattle offices, where he defended insured people in state and federal court.
Hynes was originally from Los Angeles, according to his work profile with Selman Breitman, but moved to go to school. He graduated from Tulane University Law School and the University of Pennsylvania, and settled in Seattle with his wife after residing in several different states.
"When he isn't helping clients with their legal needs, he spends time refining his 'foodie' tastes, staying up to date in the Seattle restaurant scene, and hiking the Pacific Northwest," his profile read.
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A photograph on Facebook showed Hynes and his wife walking along the Magnolia Bridge over Bayou St. John, not far from the site of Saturday's accident. Kirschbaum Hynes couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Walls also graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She had moved to New Orleans after majoring in urban studies there, according to her LinkedIn page.
She wanted to focus on "improving modern life," she said, so she concentrated on intercultural communication and wrote her thesis on the effectiveness of university diversity initiatives.
She also planned large social events, tutored local elementary students, helped adults apply for jobs and volunteered at homeless shelters and community runs.
As a fellow at the YMCA of Greater New Orleans, she developed a marketing and fundraising system, boosting public-relations efforts and doubling the funds raised for the organization on Give NOLA Day over two years.
She also founded Solace, a company that integrates art and design into home and office items.
Kopplin said he and others were particularly inspired by her work with Emerging Philanthropists, which started as a fund at the Greater New Orleans Foundation but became an independent nonprofit recently under Walls' leadership.
"Not only did she inspire folks to do great things beyond themselves, but she could gather a crowd to join her in that work," Kopplin said. "She was one of the brightest lights in our city."
Hynes and Walls were among the nine bicyclists hit in a crash that unfolded along five blocks of Esplanade Avenue about 8 p.m. Saturday. Seven other people were injured, three critically.
Bobbie Vinson, a resident of the area who saw the immediate aftermath of the crash, said the street, which has bike lanes in both directions, is a popular and smart route for cyclists looking to leave the Endymion parade route.
“It should be the safest way to get home,” she said.
The driver, Tashonty Toney, 32, faces two counts of vehicular homicide, seven counts of vehicular negligent injuring, hit-and-run and reckless operation, New Orleans police spokesman Andy Cunningham said in a news release early Sunday.
Toney didn't appear to have any prior criminal record, a records search shows.
Witnesses said Tashonty Toney, the man accused of plowing his Camaro into nine bicyclists on Esplanade Avenue on Saturday evening, was so drun…
Witnesses reported that Toney was so inebriated after the crash that he had to be revived.
Those injured included a 28-year-old woman who suffered a ruptured lung and was in critical condition; another 28-year-old woman who may have suffered a neck injury but was in stable condition; a 56-year-old woman with neck injuries, also in stable condition; a 31-year-old man with bruises and other minor injuries; a 62-year-old man with a back injury; a 56-year-old woman with an unspecified injury; and a 27-year-old woman who complained of head pain.
Multiple witnesses said Toney was headed riverbound on Esplanade in a Camaro when he tried to pass another vehicle on the right. The sports car drifted into the cyclists’ lane and accelerated, reaching a speed one witness estimated at 80 mph.
After plowing into several people, the car struck Esplanade’s neutral ground, spun dramatically and came to a stop facing in the lakebound — or opposite — direction.
Surveillance video captured the moment when a suspected intoxicated driver in a sports car crashed into bicyclists in the Bayou St. John neigh…
A witness -- cyclist Frank Rourk — told The Advocate he saw the man now identified as Toney jump out of his car shirtless, run to the corner of North Lopez and Bell streets, lay down on the sidewalk, and lose consciousness.
He said he and two others managed to rouse the driver back to consciousness, at which point he remarked: “Call my daddy — call my daddy. He’s NOPD.”
NOPD spokesman Andy Cunningham early Sunday confirmed that Toney is the son of an NOPD officer but said that fact “does not change and will not impact our department’s investigation, which will be open and transparent."
-Staff writer John Simerman contributed to this report.
Editor's note: This story was updated to correct Sharree Walls' age.