Boy killed in Jacksonville crash loved football, had good grades & looked up to his brother

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kristina Rupay and her 5-year-old son, Jayce Johnson, were attached at the hip.

On Sunday evening, Jayce went with his father to pick her up from work.

Willie Romero, the boy’s uncle, says that decision now haunts her.

“She talked him into coming by telling him she would buy him a toy at Walmart, and now she just sits there and blames herself,” Romero said. “It’s just tearing her apart.”

The Florida Highway Patrol said the car, driven by Jayce’s father, hit an SUV that was stopped at a red light on J. Turner Butler Boulevard at Bonneval Road, which led to a four-car crash.

The family says the boy’s father was hospitalized in critical condition.

The 5-year-old did not survive.

“At 5 years old, you should be safe from everything,” Romero said. “It’s not fair.”

According to the Florida Highway Patrol report, everyone else involved had minor injuries.

The family is left with a massive void following the loss of a kindergartner who loved football and looked up to his older brother.

“He was smart. Just a ball of energy, just running everywhere. Did really good. A/B honor roll,” Romero said.

A GoFundMe account was created for the family as they prepare to lay Jayce to rest. They’re also raising money to buy the boy’s mother a new car as her previous one was totaled in the crash.

About the Author:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.