‘This is my prom’: SXSW survivor finding her way after tragedy
05/11/2014 7:10 PM
05/12/2014 7:53 AM
Curtisha “Tish” Davis extended one long arm, glancing at her manicured hand and royal blue nails.
Behind her, a stylist curled pieces of hair and finished with hairspray. A makeup artist would arrive soon.
Two months ago, Davis was badly injured when a driver accused of being drunk plowed through a crowd at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin. On Saturday evening, the senior at Trimble Tech High School slipped on an elegant mermaid-style gown, stepped into a limousine and attended her prom.
“I couldn’t stand the idea of sitting inside the house feeling sad and depressed,” said Davis, 18. “This is my prom. I knew I wanted to go.”
Davis has spent two months making sense of a rearranged life, healing from broken bones and mourning the loss of her boyfriend, Deandre “Dre” Tatum, who died as a result of his injuries in the crash.
Four people were killed and about 20 were injured when the driver, fleeing from police, plowed through a street barricade and crashed into a crowd of festivalgoers. The driver, Rashad Owens, faces charges of capital murder.
Davis spent 10 days recovering from a broken neck, arm and leg, among other injuries, at an Austin hospital before moving to a rehabilitation clinic in Fort Worth.
She came home, but the family’s bills still soared. Her mother, Regina Davis, was forced to take unpaid time off work to tend to her.
When a local organization, Beautiful Ambitious Me, learned of Davis’ predicament, it volunteered to take care of prom expenses.
The organization, called BAM, provides young inner-city girls with support and guidance so they will make good decisions and be successful later in life. Founder Krystal Smith started the organization after surviving her own sometimes rocky adolescence.
“My life was on the wrong track. I was seeking attention from the wrong kind of boys and getting into trouble at school,” Smith said. “I was lucky enough to have people in my life who showed me the right path. We want to do the same for young girls.”
In addition to prom makeovers, BAM gives away college care kits and offers workshops on etiquette, character development and education.
BAM paid for Davis’ prom dress, shoes, accessories, hair, makeup and limo.
“We are so inspired by Curtisha. With everything that she has been through, she still has a smile on her face,” Smith said. “She has a lot of questions, but she is still excited about life.”
Davis said she has relied on family and friends, who visit every day after school. She still walks more slowly and has a boot on her left foot.
“This has been a rough ride, but we are managing,” her mother said. “I have been so worried about her, physically and emotionally. I am so happy she is getting such a beautiful prom. She deserves it.”
Davis said she looked forward to a fun night with her friends and maybe even a little dancing.
“Probably just one dance. I get pretty tired,” she said, pausing. “Well, maybe two.”
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