Sister of woman killed in attempted prison escape says life will never be the same


ELIZABETH CITY, NC (WAVY) — The sister of a woman killed during the attempted Pasquotank prison escape is speaking only to 10 On Your Side. 

Veronica “Ronnie” Darden, one of the staff killed during the attempted escape, is sorely missed by her family. Darden was the sewing plant manager. Darden’s older sister, Dyrel Nowell, says her life is forever changed. 

“There is nothing that can bring Ronnie back, so it needs to change, it really does. The whole prison system needs to change,” said Nowell. “She used to call me on her way home for work and she’d stop by.”

RELATED: North Carolina prison safety plan: Working or failing?

Heartache is Nowell’s new normal.

“I can’t explain how much I miss her, it’s hard because — you are going to make me cry — I won’t see her again, until I go where she is. I miss her. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her,” said Nowell. “My sister had just came back off a cruise, she got back that Sunday, she was dead on Thursday. I don’t want this to happen to no other family.”

Nowell sees some changes in the prisons, like the sewing plant where her sister was killed now being closed.  High-level offenders are no longer allowed to work enterprise jobs and prison staff are now equipped with stab-resistant vests.

“You still got the violent inmates out there, you still have people making shanks, you still have people doing this and that, so to me, how is it better? I mean, I know it takes time,” Nowell said. 

Nowell knows the empty void in her heart won’t be filled, but she also knows more changes in the prisons need to happen and quickly — before it’s too late. 

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