Henderson, N.C. — It's said that pictures speak a thousand words, and when it comes to Jayden Stokes, those words speak volumes – a happy, 5-year-old boy full of life, wearing a bright-red Gap shirt that matches his bright, big smile.
"He's a very loving child, a very intelligent child," his great-grandmother, Judy Buzzell, said Monday. "He's far beyond his years."
For example, at such a young age, God was already very important to him, and he had recently started becoming more involved in his church.
But Jayden's life was cut short Sunday afternoon, while on a walk with his father, when he was killed in what Henderson police have called a DWI-related death.
Jayden died at a local hospital; his father, Richard Stokes, 22, was in fair condition Monday at Duke University Hospital in Durham.
Vincent Gregory, 47, of 270 Sparrow Lane, was jailed under more than $1 million bond on numerous charges, including driving while impaired, felony death by motor vehicle and driving with a revoked license.
The news devastated Buzzell.
"I couldn't think," she said. "I think I just screamed in disbelief that this could have happened."
Police are still investigating the wreck but say that Gregory was traveling east at a high rate of speed on East Montgomery Street when he drove left of the roadway, hit a telephone pole, drove over the curb and hit the Stokes, who were on the sidewalk, head-on before landing in a tree.
Keyla Lewis was in her home when she heard what happened.
"It was extremely fast," she said. "I heard the truck go 'whoosh' down the road, and when I heard the bump, I immediately ran outside."
At the site of the wreck now sits a makeshift memorial honoring Jayden. Dorothea Hansley placed a teddy bear there Monday afternoon.
"We loved that baby," she said.
Hanley not only knows Jayden's family, she also knows Gregory, and was in court Monday morning for his first court appearance.
"You could see it all over his face," she said. "He looked like he was breaking inside."
Buzzell says she hopes something positive can come from her family's loss and also hopes that it will make others think twice about getting behind the wheel when alcohol is involved.
"I want to see something positive come out of this," she said. "I need to know that this man is going to be punished for what he did."