Family members remember workers killed in Pasquotank prison incident

Justin Smith, left, and Veronica Darden, were killed in an incident Oct. 12 at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution. Officials said inmates started a fire in a sewing plant. Several inmates tried to escape after the fire was started, but were unsuccessful.

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — Family members are remembering two people who died following a fire and failed escape attempt at the Pasquotank prison.

“She was the best person in the world,” Darden’s daughter Jasmine Herring said.

Looking at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution Friday, you don’t get a sense of the tragedy happened inside those walls

“I got a call and I was there was a riot going on at the prison,” Herring added.

Herring rushed to Elizabeth City from her home in Greenville. Her mom 50-year-old Veronica Darden was supervisor in the sewing plant where the events began.

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“I just thought it was like okay maybe she just got injured,” Herring added.

But the time Herring arrived she learned her mom was dead. Darden worked for the past decade at the prison and worked her way up the ranks from officer to manager.

“She loved her job,” Herring said. “She loved them inmates like they were her own.”

Darden was in the plant and so was 35-year-old Justin Smith. Smith spent the last five years as a correctional officer.

“He regularly served as the officer one of the officers provident security in the sewing plant,” North Carolina Deputy Director of Prisons Annie Harvey added.

Smith’s family says he worked two jobs and was a very caring man.

Law enforcement is still trying to figure out what happened that Darden and Smith dead. Their families now sit and wait for answers.

“Hopefully in a couple days I will know something,” Herring said. “I will get to see her. This is the worst thing ever.”