Loved ones and members of the community filled the pews at Piedmont Church off Bells Ferry Road on Monday afternoon in Marietta to mourn their loss in an open memorial.
The funeral featured a slideshow of childhood pictures, a live musical performance and words by Juliana’s older brother and sister, Tyler and Ashley.
On a stage flanked by flowers and photos, the Rev. Wayne Collett, Juliana’s youth pastor, led an hour-long ceremony dedicated to the teenager’s memory.
“This little girl made an impact on my life. Not because she died tragically in a car accident. But because she always had a smile on her face,” Collett said.
Juliana, who was a rising junior at Sprayberry High School, and her friends Reina Al-Salaam, 15, and Monica Epps, 16, were walking along Barrett Lakes Parkway after spending the afternoon of Memorial Day at a local pool when a car swerved off the road and struck the trio, said Ike Reighard, pastor of Piedmont Church in Marietta.
Police say Reina was pronounced dead at the scene, while Juliana and Monica were taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital. Monica’s injuries were not-life-threatening, police say, while Juliana’s placed her in intensive care all week. According to Reighard, Juliana took a turn for the worse at about 5 a.m. on Friday morning. Hours later, she died in the hospital.
Monica is also a student at Sprayberry, while Reina was Juliana’s childhood friend from East Point before Juliana’s family moved to Cobb.
Mercianna Oliver, Reina’s sister and a close friend of Juliana’s, remembers the Sprayberry student’s smile above everything else.
“She was like a sister to us,” Mercianna said. “She was always there. She was part of the family and we’re definitely going to miss her.”
Mercianna said her favorite memories of Reina and Juliana occurred when she accompanied the two on their first trip to New York.
“They’d never been that far before, so just to see their faces as they experienced everything,” Mercianna recalled of her sister and friend. “It just made it that much better of a trip.”
Juliana’s family stood by her side until the end, Collett said, and never gave up hope.
“Our daughter is a beautiful, fun-loving, full-of-life young lady with a smile on her face always,” the Ferrell family said in a prepared statement early last week. “She is a child of the one living God and he is the great healer. We’re putting our trust in him at this time.”
Friends and classmates remember a happy, caring girl who brightened the lives of everyone she met.
“She was a beautiful girl. She was always smiling, and she just made everybody happy no matter what she was doing. Everybody’s going to miss her,” said Jennifer Jones, one of Juliana’s friends.
“I just remember her smile. It wasn’t one of those fake smiles,” recalled PJ Moore, who played music alongside Juliana in Sprayberry’s band. “The whole smile — it just lit up her whole face.”
Eranique, who asked that her last name be withheld, was another friend who remembers Juliana’s kindness during a lonely moment.
“When I was a new student, she invited me to come sit with her at lunch,” Eranique said.
During the service, Collett acknowledged the “senseless” accident that claimed the lives of Reina and Juliana.
“They did not have a care in the world, and they shouldn’t,” he said of the three girls who were struck in the collision. “They were being teenage girls. And their life was cut short in an instant.”
Investigators say Tansu Kanlica, 27, of Atlanta, lost control of his car while chasing a customer who had sped off before paying him $175 in locksmith fees.
During the chase, police say, Kanlica collided with the three teenagers, who were walking on the sidewalk.
According to arrest warrants, Kanlica did not stop after running down the victims, but plowed through several shrubs and drove up a nearby embankment before continuing the chase.
Kanlica was arrested when he stopped on the Canton Road Connector to arrange alternate transportation, police say.
According to the warrant, Kanlica was charged with reckless driving, failure to maintain lane, hit and run, first degree homicide by vehicle and two counts of serious injury by vehicle.
Police have also charged the customer Kanlica was chasing. They say Garrett Anderson, 23, of Kennesaw, sped off without paying Kanlica $175 for unlocking his car.
Anderson was charged with theft of services, reckless driving, two counts of serious injury by vehicle and first-degree homicide by vehicle.
Both men are in Cobb jail without bond. A spokesperson for the Cobb County District Attorney’s office said Kanlica had been charged with another count of first degree homicide by vehicle, hit-and-run, following Juliana’s death.
A Go Fund Me account has been set up to help pay for medical expenses incurred while Juliana was in the hospital.
The page can be found at www.gofundme.com/9k8eco and the family is hoping to raise up to $100,000 through the fundraising website. Anyone with information about the crash that may assist investigators is asked to call Cobb police at (770) 499-3987.