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Many kids have dreams about what they want to do when they grow up. When a woman from Buffalo, New York, knew she wanted to become a dentist she set on a journey to make her dreams a reality. Unfortunately, one ill-fated night dashed her dreams when her young life ended in the blink of an eye when she was killed in a car crash this week.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a dentist and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else,” wrote 27-year-old Howard University School of Dentistry student Brittany Burks in a 2016 Facebook post. “I realized how strongly I felt about achieving my dream as I went through many upsets on my journey but consistently refused to give up.”

On Monday night 24-year-old Darnell Bassett struck a K9 cruiser in Northeast Washington, D.C. just blocks away from his home. D.C. Police immediately began a pursuit that led them toward the highway. As Bassett went further onto the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, a police supervisor called off the chase, but Bassett continued toward Maryland. One minute later, he crashed into the back of Burks’ Honda CR-V at a high rate of speed. Burks, who had been stopped on the right shoulder of the Parkway, had to be extracted from the vehicle.

Bassett was placed in custody and airlifted to a trauma center. Burks was pronounced dead on the scene, her hopes of pursuing her dream frozen in time.

“We just devastated. She’s my only child,” Burks’ mother Kim Swan said. “She was just a real sweet, real good spirit about her.”

The Howard University community also mourned the loss of Burks, who had been a student there for three years. One of her classmates called the College of Dentistry a “big family.”

“Nobody’s taking it that easy but it’s good because everyone here is very close. That’s the main thing that’s happened, it’s a big family here if anybody does need a shoulder to cry on, they got it,” Burks’ classmate, Aimir Diam said.

The school Provost Anthony Wutoh issued a statement to the Howard community regarding Burks’ death writing, “On behalf of the entire Howard University community, I wish to express our sincere condolences to the Burks family and friends.”

Following the deadly crash, D.C. police were not quick to confirm that the police pursuit led to Bassett hitting Burks’ vehicle. Police Chief Peter Newsham told the media on Wednesday that he wanted to wait for more of the facts to come out.

“It’s very concerning, the information that we have to this point,” Newsham said. “I don’t want to pre-judge it. So, we’re going to wait until we have all the information before we make a determination.”

The investigation into the incident is pending, but more importantly, it must be remembered that a woman with a dream lost her life. In a Facebook post, Burks had an important message for those looking to fulfill a dream as well:

“You have to guard your dream and follow your heart no matter what other people suggest,” she wrote.

A GoFundMe has been created to help her family bring her body home.


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