Husband of teacher killed in Wake Forest crash forgives charged trucker
Posted April 4, 2016
Wake Forest, N.C. — Michael Barlow said he was driving to Wake Forest from Virginia two weeks ago when he got an alert on his phone about a bad crash on Capital Boulevard.
Barlow had spoken to his wife, Michelle, about 15 minutes earlier as she was headed back to Wake Forest from training at the Wake County Public School System headquarters in Cary.
He tried to call her again but didn't get an answer, so he asked a friend to go to the crash scene. There, a law enforcement officer informed Barlow over the phone that his wife was dead.
Barlow said Monday that it took a while for the news to sink in.
"When they handed me her wedding band that I remember so intimately placing on her finger on our wedding day, it became real," he said. "I know one day we'll be reunited, but in the meantime, it does not make it any easier having something so precious torn away."
He now wears the ring on a chain around his neck.
"This is a way I get to carry a physical piece of her with me as a reminder," he said.
Michelle Barlow was a teacher at Wake Forest High School and the mother of two. Her husband remembers her as "an Italian spitfire."
"She's tenacious and ferocious, but always with a good spirit about it," he said. "She knew how to have a presence, to encourage, to really bring the best out of people, but yet, at the same time, taking a backseat the whole time. It was pretty unique to watch her kind of weave all of that together."
Barlow, a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, said he wants to honor his wife's memory by forgiving the man charged in her death.
Donald Wayne Caulder, 29, of Laurinburg, is charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and failure to reduce speed in the March 22 crash.
Authorities said Caulder was northbound on Capital Boulevard in a dump truck towing a Bobcat when he rear-ended Michelle Barlow’s 2004 Toyota Sienna, sandwiching it between his truck and a tractor-trailer.
"He's hurting too. He doesn't deserve to be tormented anymore than we do," Barlow said of Caulder. "Knowing what we know, it doesn't make it hard to extend forgiveness when we've been extended forgiveness."
The support to the family from students and faculty at Wake Forest High has been uplifting, Barlow said.
"She's making an impact even more so in her absence than when she was here, and she made a huge impact when she was here," he said.
Her ultimate impact will be how she raised their children, he said.
"They get to live out in themselves what Mama had already modeled, so obviously, in them, yeah, her legacy will live on," he said. "My task I took on as her husband is to present her beautiful to the world. To do anything less than that is dishonoring."