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‘The light that never went out’: Young mom killed in Innisfil crash mourned

Family, friends remembering Natasha Smith, 33, who they describe as 'the glue that kept everyone together' and the 'absolute sweetest'

She loved to travel. She took great joy in helping others. She cherished her family and friends.

Barrie resident Natasha Smith, 33, is being remembered for her empathy, selflessness, and easy-going nature.

Smith, known simply as “Tasha” by many of her loved ones, died in a two-vehicle crash on Yonge Street in Innisfil in the early morning hours of May 11. She was driving home at the time.

Renata Antoniuk, whose cousin, Tom, was Smith’s common-law husband, described her as the “absolute sweetest.”

“She always wanted to make sure everyone was happy and she was just really kind,” Antoniuk said, voice cracking.

Smith had grown up in Innisfil and attended Nantyr Shores Secondary School.

But Samantha Chao met Smith in 2008, when they worked together at Boston Pizza in Stouffville, after Smith had moved in with her mom and stepdad. Chao and Smith quickly became best friends — they attended Centennial College together, albeit while enrolled in different programs, and Smith was Chao’s maid of honour for her Las Vegas wedding.

“On the day of our wedding, she came over to the hotel to get ready with me and help me with my dress and everything,” Chao said.

During the photography session after the service, Smith stopped the shoot in its tracks to fix Chao’s dress.

“A picture has to look perfect,” Chao said. “She wanted everything to be perfect for my special day. She was a very amazing person.”

When reflecting on their Boston Pizza days, Chao said Smith was the “life of the restaurant.”

“Everybody loved her,” Chao said. “Everyone who worked there, we were like a family.”

Smith lived with Tom, her high-school crush, and they had two children — ages three and one — together.

“Tom started bringing her around ... to family Christmases and stuff like that,” Antoniuk said. “Tasha literally started learning Polish for Tom’s grandma. She just wanted everyone to feel included.”

Smith’s stepbrother, Kaydyn Hunter, has organized a GoFundMe page that had already collected more than $12,400 from over 90 donors as of late Tuesday morning. The money will be used to give Smith a proper burial and support her young family.

“She was the glue that kept everyone together,” Hunter said in a text. “The light that never went out.”

A fundraiser is also planned at Stouffville's Mulligan's on Main pub (6298 Main St.) Thursday, May 16 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with proceeds from sales supporting Smith's family. 

Smith had worked in corrections and helped people leaving prison reintegrate into society. 

“She was very fierce,” Chao said. “She loved her job. She definitely touched a lot of people in so many ways. She was never judgmental and was very empathetic and kind toward people who had a rough time and had made mistakes.”

Smith also caught the travel bug. Her first trip outside of Ontario was with Chao, when they ventured to Vegas for a girls’ vacation. They took road trips together, too, and Smith fancied going to Europe with Tom.

“She wanted to see the world,” Chao said. “She loved to go out and have girls’ nights. She loved the atmosphere of being around other people. She was such a busy bee.”

Chao says Smith would have been overwhelmed by the support shown to her family in recent days — people have brought food to their home, posted nice photos of Smith on social media, and laid flowers near the collision scene.

“It’s lovely that people are donating, but she’d want support in any way," Chao said. “She had the heart of gold. It’s (more) about everyone coming together. People are now doing exactly what she would have done — being there, laying flowers, being kind to Tom. Their whole kitchen, the counters are stacked with food. Everybody’s coming from all over, dropping off stuff.”

Antoniuk agrees.

“There’s nothing you can say to make it better … it’s incomprehensible,” she said. “Tom has a good support network around him. Everybody’s trying to be there and do what they can.”

South Simcoe police are still looking for witnesses to the crash, which occurred on Yonge Street, south of the 9th Line, on Saturday shortly before 2 a.m. When officers arrived on scene, a 2023 Volkswagen Jetta and the 2006 Chevrolet Impala driven by Smith were in flames.

The two occupants of the Jetta were removed from the vehicle and taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Smith was pronounced dead at the scene, police say, despite life-saving efforts by a resident and emergency personnel.

“The investigation is ongoing at this time,” Sgt. Dave Phillips said Monday. “I anticipate further developments in the coming days.”   

Anyone with information, dash camera footage or video surveillance related to the crash is asked to call Const. Matthew Grove at 905-775-3311 or 705-436-2141, ext. 2034, or email [email protected].

Funeral arrangements have yet to be determined, Antoniuk said.

While Tom is still in a state of shock, he’s trying hard to also be a good support system for his children, she said.

“He’s still processing it; it’s hard, because obviously he’s got to be strong for the kids,” Antoniuk said. “The kids are so young. They have no idea what’s happened. It’s sad when it happens to anyone, but their family was so young. They wanted to save up and buy a house. They had two kids and a dog. They had so many plans.”

Chris Simon

About the Author: Chris Simon

Chris Simon is an award-winning journalist who has written for publications throughout Simcoe County and York Region. He is the current Editor of BradfordToday and InnisfilToday and has about two decades of experience in the sector
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