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‘A beautiful girl inside and out’: Woman dies after suspected DUI crash

Updated December 6, 2023 - 3:04 pm

Shyayn Bass “touched everybody’s heart,” her dad said.

The 22-year-old Las Vegas woman died at University Medical Center after police said a suspected DUI driver drove into oncoming traffic and plowed his minivan into her car Saturday night while she was driving on Dean Martin Drive.

“She was an angel and everybody loved her and looked up to her,” her father, Dwight Bass, Jr., said in an interview. “Just a beautiful girl inside and out.”

Shyayn, who suffered life-threatening injuries in the crash, was pronounced dead on Monday just after 5 p.m., Bass said, adding that she was being kept on a ventilator Tuesday because her organs will be donated. Her death was also confirmed by the Clark County coroner’s office.

‘Touched everybody’s heart’

Now, Shyayn’s family and friends are devastated as they cope with the loss. About 20 to 25 friends showed up at the hospital Sunday to visit Shyayn, said Bass, who is 49 and lives in Las Vegas.

“She was very artistic and had a lot of friends and touched everybody’s heart,” Bass said, his voice breaking. “She was 22 years old and was going to go to New York to become a writer and that didn’t happen.”

Bass’ friend Curtis Garcia, 26, said he and Bass had been planning to move to New York to pursue writing. He described her as a “ball of energy,” somebody who was “fiercely loyal” and who “always had something nice to say.”

“She was the best,” Garcia said.

An ‘old soul’

After he returned home from the hospital on Monday, Bass said he found his daughter’s annual Christmas card in his mailbox. It was painful for him, he said.

On the card’s front, Shyayn is in clown makeup as she holds one of her two cats, Lux and Ivy, whom she had recently adopted. She named the kittens after Lux Interior and Poison Ivy of the rock band The Cramps. An “old soul,” her dad said, Shyayn was also a fan of The Ramones.

“She should’ve been a teen in the 80s,” Bass said via text message.

The card’s back explained the card was in honor of Webkinz, her late cat of “14 glorious years.” In 2022, Shyayn also self-published a children’s book called Lex’s Halloween, about a black cat who hates Halloween because he is considered bad luck, according to a description of the book on barnesandnoble.com. Lex was inspired by Webkinz.

“Her humor was contagious and all her family and friends love her tremendously,” Bass said in a text message.

When Webkinz died a few months ago, Shyayn was devastated, her dad said.

A Metropolitan Police Department arrest report released Tuesday provided more details of the crash, which police first announced in a news release Sunday.

According to the report, Bass was driving her 2017 Toyota Yaris north in the left lane on Dean Martin just north of West Tompkins Avenue, near Tropicana Avenue and Interstate 15, at about 10:25 p.m.

At the same time, a 2003 Honda Odyssey driven by Ali Brandy Aponte, 50, of Las Vegas, “was seen traveling in the center shared turn lane, failed to maintain his lane, and began driving in the northbound travel lanes,” the report said.

Bass was safely operating her car, police say

According to the report, a witness who was driving south on Dean Martin saw a vehicle pass her, cross the center turn lane, and continue driving south in the northbound lanes. The report went on to say that Brandy Aponte was seen “passing vehicles on the left at a high rate of speed.”

The front of Brandy Aponte’s minivan then hit the front of Bass’ Yaris. Both vehicles had major front-end damage, police said.

“Bass was safely operating the vehicle, following the rules of the road, and wearing her seat belt, which emergency personnel cut to extract her safely from the car,” the report stated.

Officers found an “open alcoholic container on the passenger side floorboard” of the Honda Odyssey, the arrest report said.

Police said Bass suffered life-threatening injuries including two broken legs, a broken pelvis, internal bleeding, and brain hemorrhages.

Brandy Aponte, who suffered no injuries, police said, as well as a 26-year-old man who was a passenger in the minivan, were both also taken to the trauma unit at University Medical Center “as a precaution due to the severity of the collision,” a Metro news release said.

An officer who went to the hospital saw that Brandy Aponte had bloodshot eyes. Brandy Aponte told the officer he had been at a party. He also admitted to drinking before he drove, the report said.

The officer had Brandy Aponte do a sobriety test. Details of the report were redacted, but the report said Brandy Aponte “performed unsatisfactorily,” a possible reference to the sobriety test. The officer then obtained two blood samples from Brandy Aponte.

Brandy Aponte, police said, showed signs of being impaired. He was arrested and faces felony counts of reckless driving resulting in death or substantial bodily harm and DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm, and a misdemeanor count of failure to maintain travel lane or improper lane change, according to Las Vegas Justice Court records.

‘So they’re just shook up, and I gotta bury a child’

Bass wanted to get the message across to people this holiday season to not drive while impaired, to take a taxi or use a ride-hailing service such as Uber or Lyft instead. The crash happened two days after two Nevada Highway Patrol troopers were killed in a crash that police allege was caused by a DUI driver.

According to Metro statistics, 53 people were killed in crashes involving suspected impaired driving between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1 in Metro’s jurisdiction. That’s a 15.5 percent drop from the 62 over the same time period in 2022.

In all of 2022, 65 people were killed in suspected DUI crashes, a 14.5 percent drop from the 76 people who died in suspected DUI crashes in 2021, according to Metro statistics.

Shyayn is also survived by her mother Alice Von Oy, stepfather Dave Von Oy, brothers Brenden Bass and Matheu Von Oy, and sister Anita Richards, Bass said.

Calling the situation a “nightmare,” Bass said Shyayn’s family is in shock over what’s happened.

“Just in shock knowing that an angel like her has to go to heaven and the guy that hit her, he’s still alive and gets to see another day,” Bass said. “So they’re just shook up, and I gotta bury a child.”

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com.

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