Dreamah’s nightmare

She was young and energetic and fun. And then she was dead. Ejected through a windshield and pronounced dead on the pavement of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, amid broken glass and unlived expectations. It is

Wink, Christopher She was young and energetic and fun.

And then she was dead. Ejected through a windshield and pronounced dead on the pavement of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, amid broken glass and unlived expectations.

It is so rare that we are affected by what we expect. Much more often it is what blindsides us on an otherwise anonymous trip home.

Ciara Deprill was born on Aug. 20, 1986. Less than 7,000 days later, in the dark and forgotten morning hours of Feb. 3, 2006, she had other places to be.

It became a story. Deprill was riding shotgun with Dreamah Knoll, who was driving with a blood alcohol level a few ticks over the legal limit. They were coming back to the city, going westbound on the Ben Franklin. Those lanes can seem so narrow. A concrete barrier can change so many things.

Deprill is gone, but what might be worse is the risk of losing Knoll. There is no pain like the pain of those who survive. Those who are granted the privilege of living with unwarranted guilt and irreversible anguish.

Just three days after the tragedy and hours beyond a stint in critical condition at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Knoll had something to say and chose a voice of increasing power to say it. She sat down just after 10 p.m. on Feb. 6, signed into her Facebook account and wrote a letter. To Ciara. To the world. To herself.

“It just kills me inside,” she wrote. “I hope the angels are making u pork chops with rice and beans up there.”

“I know how much u loved them.”

Knoll tried to put into words what cannot be put into words.

“I so badly want to let your family know how sorry I feel for them right now.”

Call the parents of the best friend you’ve ever had and apologize for witnessing their child’s death.

Knoll, herself, has other places to be. After the accident, she was charged with driving under the influence, homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter. In December 2007, she was convicted of the first and exonerated of the last two.

Now she waits. Her sentencing has been postponed until after this semester. You see, Knoll, now a 23-year-old biology major, is set to graduate this May. In celebration, she could get a 90-day sentence, 90 days to think about the accident that killed her best friend.

Deprill was from Allentown, Knoll from South Philly. They met at a fraternity party. They worked together at a nightclub in Old City.

“U quickly became one of my best friends I have ever had. I was so happy to have someone here that I really connected with,” Knoll wrote after the incident. “It was such a relief to finally have a true friend at Temple.”

I do not know what remained then. But now, Knoll has a life to rebuild and recover. She’ll graduate and take on her sentencing. She’ll move on. Without Ciara.

Christopher Wink can be reached at cwink@temple.edu.


  1. This article is ill equipped to adequately address an innocent tragedy. The vivid details are a terrible account of what happened to an innocent and sweet member of our community. The author lacks professionalism and sympathy for those left behind in Ciara’s wake. Sure, “shell move on. Without Ciara” but what about the rest of Ciara’s family and friends that had no stake in this terrible and all too often displayed lack of social responsibility? To think, we are doing Dreamah a favor by allowing her to walk across that stage in May but where is Ciara’s favor? Where is the justice in her unfortunate and premature demise? Mr. Wink, when talking about an innocent woman’s death, keep it sweet and think about the people that want to remember her smile as opposed to the image of her on concrete across the Ben Franklin bridge. Furthermore, at this stage in educational advancement, grammatical errors should cease to exist, i.e.: “U” rather than actually spelling out the word “you” or using slang, “shotgun.” Give me and yourself a break.

  2. To T.,

    I understand the grief felt when losing someone you care about recklessly, BUT they BOTH decided to drink that night AND they BOTH decided to ride in that car together as best friends. I;m sure there is now regret all around but they are both at fault for thinking that it was a good idea to take another chance as they had done so many times before, riding across that bridge drunk.

  3. u OBVIOUSLY don’t know half of the things that happened. Writing an article using Ciara Nicole Deprill’s name to back up that knoll character was out of line. You said nothing of Ciara’s life. How much she was loved, all her achievements, and what happened in that car that night. Which, you probably know nothing about so next time do some research before you try to make and evil person look good.


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