Local News

Wake Family Hopes Story Will Remind Grads To Be Safe

Posted May 30, 2003

— Two years ago, graduation season turned tragic in Raleigh after four teens died in a crash along I-540 at Leesville Road. But family members of one of the accident victims hope graduates will learn from their heartache.

Eighteen-year-old Bryan Reeves, and three 17-year-olds, Jamie Brewer, Mike Smith and Matthew Yurcak, all died in the automobile crash. Gary Yurcak, Matthew's father, said he hopes his message to young drivers prevents it from happening again.

"If you just think about your family, especially if you've got brothers or sisters, if you think about them, before you get into a car or think about doing something else that's probably stupid in retrospect, maybe that will help you make the right decision," he said.

Matthew's sister, Meredith, is almost 17, nearly as old as her brother when he died. She said she is worried about teens who are not worried about the rules.

"Because there's that new law, you can only have one person in the car with you. I know some of my friends who have to abide by that law and it doesn't count for them," she said. "They just, you know, say 'Well, I'm not going to get caught,' so they still break it."

Even though officials with the state Department of Transportation said it was too dangerous to have a memorial on the interstate because of safety concerns, some markers are being allowed on the anniversary of the incident to remind others about the incident.

"It's a life-changing event and you never get over it. You have to learn how to live with it," Gary said.

"I've seen what happens with speeding and misjudgement and kids these days, they just think, 'Oh well, you know nothing is ever going to happen to me. I have forever to live,'" Meredith said.

Aside from the Leesville Road graduation, 13 other Wake County schools hold commencement exercises between now and Monday. The Yurcaks hope their story makes all the graduates think before they celebrate.

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