At around 5am on the morning of Saturday, June 30, two people were killed and three injured when the Nissan Pathfinder they were traveling in rolled over several times. According to published reports, the vehicle was heading south on US Highway 281 when the driver, 47-year-old Dana Byars, swerved to avoid hitting something in the road.
Byars’ son, 18-year-old Steven David Oliver, and his girlfriend, 18-year-old Kaila Marie Gomez, were ejected from the back seat of the vehicle. They were reportedly not wearing their seat belts.
The accident occurred north of Johnson City, in front of the PEC training facility. Kaila reportedly died at the scene; Steven was taken to an Austin hospital and died there a short time later. Byars, Oliver’s younger brother, and his best friend survived the accident.
Gomez and Oliver graduated just over a month ago from Judson High School, about 66 miles south of Johnson City and outside San Antonio.
Shauna Johnson, Kaila’s older sister, told KSAT News that the group was on their way home from attending a boot camp graduation ceremony for Steven’s eldest sister, Kioriandra Oliver, in Lawton, Oklahoma.
“We were very proud of them, they had come a long way, and had been through a lot and they were about to enter the next stage in their life,” Johnson told the San Antonio news station.
KSAT reports that the couple was inseparable and they had begun dating in the 8th grade.
“It wasn’t Steven. It wasn’t Kaila. It was Kaila and Steven. They weren’t individuals. They were together all the time,” Shalamar Jenkins, Steven’s older sister, told KSAT.
“I knew when they told me that Kaila had passed away… and that Steven had seen that Kaila had passed away… that he wasn’t going to let her go… he wasn’t going to let her be by herself,” Jenkins stated.
Funeral services for both Kaila and Steven were held last week. On Saturday, friends and family gathered together to hold a “Celebration of Life” service for both teens at the Buffalo Valley Motocross Track in Marion, TX.
According to the “Steven-Kaila Memorial Page” on Facebook, an account was set up at Wells Fargo under the name of the “Dana Byars Foundation.” Donations will go to help the family with funeral expenses and other related costs. The account number is 219-722-1340.