OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Community members at a bittersweet gathering in Oakland Monday evening honored a young mother killed by a fleeing driver in a police chase.
It has been a decade of loss and hard-fought recovery for her young son.
"Oh I love my mom," Nai'ere Burgess said at the start of a vigil for Marquita Bosley, who was 25 when she died Aug. 26, 2009.
Nai'ere was almost 2 years old when the Hyundai sedan Bosley was driving was struck by the driver of an Acura Integra that ran a stop sign in West Oakland.
Police had tried to pull him over for erratic driving, but he stepped on the gas and 30 seconds later, crashed into Bosley near the spot at 18th Street and West Street where she was killed. The accident also affected her son, who was left with severe brain damage to the right side of his brain.
"So the function that he does have is a miracle," Nai'ere's father, Dante Burgess, said.
At 11, Nai'ere speaks haltingly and paralysis on his left side forces him to walk with a limping gait.
He has a wheelchair, but prefers to stay on his feet until he tires.
He just started sixth grade, and answers questions with a broad smile, saying he thinks about his mother often.
The day of the crash, Bosley, who lived with her family in Pittsburg, was driving Nai'ere to Oakland to see his father.
Burgess rushed to the scene, where paramedics had been unable to save Bosley, then to Children's Hospital, where Nai'ere was in critical condition.
Witnesses at the time said Bosley's last words were concern for her child.
"She loved him so much, she loved him dearly," said Burgess, who was told Nai'ere would never walk or talk again.
Instead, he recovered beyond doctor's expectations.
"He's outgoing, outspoken, funny, and he loves to laugh, dance, and sing, " said sister Briante Buress, who was in high school when the accident happened. "I think he makes everybody else's day better, but I don't recall him ever having a bad day."
The driver who struck Bosley is in prison. He was on probation for two felony cases at the time, and most likely, fled because he did not want to be incarcerated again.
Bosley's death was one of several in Oakland, in which innocent drivers, passengers, or pedestrians were injured or killed as a result of police pursuits. Outcry prompted review of pursuit protocol, and in 2014, the policy tightened. Now, only a suspect wanted for a violent crime can be chased, especially if it endangers the public.
"Nai'ere didn't even get an apology, not even an apology from the police," said Burgess, "and they got a part in it by chasing at high speed through this residential area, it shouldn't have happened."
The vigil was as much for Nai'ere as anyone, keeping his mom's memory alive.
"Marquita was real sweet, quiet, and soft-spoken but she made her presence known, I loved her," said Briante Buress. "I still wonder, what if they hadn't been there, what if this hadn't happened, I think about it a lot."
Bosley had worked in a medical office before taking time off to be with Nai'ere, but was planning to return to work when he turned two.
"She was a great person and she left us a great person too," said Dante Burgess. "He's my angel, he's my hero, he's my motivation, he's everything."