‘She was an awesome person’ — Staten Island teen who died in Liberia loved helping community

By Mira Wassef mwassef@siadvance.com

Staten Island native Princess Yates was killed in a car crash in Liberia. (Courtesy: Facebook)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The Staten Island teen who tragically died in Africa was funny, good-hearted and always ready to help, her friends told the Advance.

“She was always willing to be there for anyone,” said Taj Ellis, 23, president of the Staten Island NAACP Youth Council. “She was reserved, but very out-spoken when she had something to say.”

Ellis worked with Princess Yates, 19, at the youth council, where Yates served as the secretary. She was also one of the organization’s four founders.

Yates, 19, was killed in a car crash two weeks ago while visiting family in Liberia. Yates was there celebrating her grandmother’s 90th birthday, Ellis said.

“She was an awesome person,” he added. “She was funny, and liked to sing and dance.”

Ellis and Yates met last year while volunteering with the non-profit organization Young, Talented and Gifted, where the two friends assisted high school students with college applications and entrance essays.

The two also held events about civil rights awareness and worked with Curtis High School students to teach them about including others.

Yates was passionate about making changes on Staten Island, her friends said.

She spoke with Mayor Bill de Blasio during his town hall on Staten Island, and got the mayor to agree to meeting with the youth council, Ellis said.

“She was vital part of making Staten Island a place for all colors, especially the youth,” he said.

Pryde Smith-Gilbert, 22, is the vice president of the youth council and also met Yates through their work at Young, Talented and Gifted.

“She was like a sister to me,” Smith-Gilbert said. “She was a really good person at heart. She was funny and had charisma.”

Yates was attending Spellman College in Atlanta and studying environmental science and engineering. She graduated from Gaynor McCown High School in New Springville.

She had twin sister, Maya, and younger brother, Smith-Gilbert said.

Her father, Prince, of Clifton, briefly spoke with the Advance, but would not comment on Yates’ death, because of an “ongoing investigation.

Source: News Now/Silive.com

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About Cholo Brooks 15636 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.