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Child dies in Putnam County crash: Family, friends blame mother for crash

6:59 PM, May 14, 2013   |    comments
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PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. --  A 5-year-old girl's death after a car crash could have been avoided, according to friends and family.

Brianna Cooper died Saturday after a crash in Putnam County. Her mother, Kimberly Cooper, 27, of Hollister was driving.

The crash happened on West Strickland Road in Interlachen.

The Florida Highway Patrol report says on May 8, Cooper's car was westbound but started to drift into the eastbound lane "for reasons unknown."  

FHP said a driver in the eastbound lane honked her horn, trying to get Cooper's attention. The report says Cooper's car collided with the other car in a head-on crash.

Cooper, her daughter Brianna, and the other driver were taken to the hospital. Brianna died days later, the day before Mother's Day.

"Brianna was the sweetest little girl," Weston Spoonire told First Coast News Tuesday. "She loved to swim."

Spoonire is a former boyfriend of Brianna's mother, and Brianna lived with him for more than a year.   

He said Cooper just picked up Brianna from Interlachen Elementary School before the crash happened.

"We know Kimberly drove into the other lane and hit head-on into the other individual," Spoonire said.

An FHP report says tests are pending regarding if Cooper was under the influence. Spoonire believes she was.

"Because of her long history of drugs," he said.

Cooper has a long criminal record that includes drug charges and traffic offenses. She was convicted of some charges, but most charges were dropped.

Spoonire admits that he has a criminal record too, but he says he's been off drugs for six years and has cleaned up his life. 

He said the State took Brianna and her 10-year-old sister from their mother three times. However, a Florida Department of Children and Families spokesman, John Harrell, cannot comment because of privacy laws. Harrell said DCF has been investigating the family situation since it heard about the crash.

Cooper's sister, Brandy Cooper, told First Coast News her sister has a history of problems with drugs and alcohol.

"She kept [the children] from me because she was scared I'd take them from her, which I would've done. I was trying to," Brandy Cooper stated.  

Brandy was concerned about her nieces' welfare, but she said her sister would never sign the paperwork releasing the children to her.

Brandy Cooper questions why authorities allowed her sister to keep the children. She says Brianna's 10-year-old child is now with her own father. 

First Coast News attempted to contact Kimberly Cooper, but she did not return out calls.

A convenience store employee called the Putnam County Sheriff's Office about 4 hours before the crash on Wednesday. 

The employee gave a description of the Cooper's car and said Cooper appeared to be "under the influence of something" according to Putnam County Sheriff's spokesman Hancel Woods.

Woods said a BOLO was issued and a deputy responded to the area and search the roads, but the deputy did not find the car.

Brandy Cooper signed for her niece's organs to be donated. 

She said it helped save five children this weekend. "That's a good Mother's Day present for those moms of those kids," Brandy said. 

First Coast News

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