Liberty Tanner was getting her life on track when it ended tragically in January.
“She was a great person,” said Amy D’Uva, with whom Tanner had lived. D’Uva’s son, Ed Horning, was Tanner’s fiancé; the two had been together for five years. “She had a lot of dreams, a lot of things she wanted to do. Things were just getting started for her. It was so exciting to watch her. Things were starting to click for her.”
Tanner, 19, was on her way home from the Continental School of Beauty in Mattydale when her 1996 Dodge Neon broke down in the center lane of I-81 northbound north of Hastings (on the Brewerton Bridge between exits 31 and 32) around 10:15 p.m. Jan. 16. The car had stalled and its lights had gone out. Tanner was on the phone with Onondaga County 911 reporting the matter, when her vehicle was struck in the rear by a 2002 Buick Century operated by 17-year-old, Alex B. Mills of Altmar. A 1998 Plymouth Breeze, operated by 17-year-old Michael R. Edinger of Parish, slowed as it approached the accident scene and was rear ended by a 2007 Chevy Cobalt driven by 20-year-old Emily Smith of Pulaski. A 2006 Nissan driven by 28-year-old Stefanie Wooding of Fulton entered the accident scene and collided with the rear of the Chevy Cobalt.
Tanner was pronounced deceased at the scene. Three of those involved in the accident were transported to University Hospital at Upstate where they were treated and released. The highway was closed from exit 31 to exit 32 for eight hours while State Police Collision Reconstructive Unit investigated the scene.
In addition to Horning, Tanner left behind her daughter, Olivia Grace Horning, who is now 7 months old.
“She was very proud of being a mom,” said D’Uva. “She was always raising the bar on what kind of mom she was going to be. She put a lot of pressure on herself to be the best mom out there.”
In fact, it was Olivia that prompted Tanner to attend cosmetology school.
“She was going to cosmetology school to become a hairdresser so she could give her daughter a good life,” D’Uva said. “She wanted to start a college fund for her.”
D’Uva said Tanner’s deep devotion to her daughter was typical of the 2011 Altmar-Parish-Williamstown grad; family was a top priority for her.
“She was really all about family. That was so important to her,” D’Uva said. “She just would do anything for anybody. She was always there for anybody.”
In order to help fill Tanner’s dreams for the little girl, Five Star Martial Arts, where Tanner’s fiancé was a member, will hold a fundraiser in her honor from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 10, at their North Syracuse facility, located at 7575 Buckley Road in Sugarwood Plaza.
“We’ve been going to karate for almost three years,” D’Uva said. “Liberty didn’t join, but she always went with us and brought Olivia. She was very much a part of the Five Star family.”
The event will feature a silent auction, raffles, food and live music, as well as a Karate Kick-a-thon at 3:30 p.m. All proceeds will benefit Tanner’s daughter Olivia. Tickets, which cost $15 each, can be purchased at Five Star. For more information, call 935-5874.
“It’s awesome that they wanted to do this for her and for Olivia and Ed and everybody,” D’Uva said. “I think it’s so awesome that they’re putting the effort and energy into doing this.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.