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Troopers: Drunken driver claims lives of groom, best man and groomsman

Posted April 21, 2009
Updated April 22, 2009

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— An alleged drunken driver is blamed for the deaths of a groom, his little brother and his best man Saturday in Bladen County. They were on their way to the wedding Saturday afternoon in Council when the unthinkable happened.

Bride-to-be losses fiance, two others, in wreck Bride-to-be loses fiance, two others, in wreck

"I wasn't nervous. It just seemed like everything was just going smoothly,” bride-to-be Angel Bonham said.

The wedding was supposed to begin at 4 p.m. at the Council Baptist Church, 322 Council Baptist Church Road. Bonham and husband-to-be Brandon Tedder, 23, had been together for nearly eight years.

At 3:30 p.m., Tedder wasn't there.

"Everybody's like, 'Oh God, he's got cold feet. He's not showing,'” Bonham said.

Bonham's friend made some phone calls about Tedder's whereabouts.

"I heard him say, 'And it matches the description of the car?' They were trying to hold on to me, and I just flew over to him and clung to him,” Bonham said.

The truth was much harder for her to grasp.

On Tuesday, she recounted the conversation.

"He said, 'Don't make me have to tell you this.' He mouthed the word 'dead.'"

“I said, 'Dead? Which one's dead?'"

“He said, 'Don't make me have to tell you this.'"

“I said, 'Who is it?'"

“He said, 'All three of them.'"

Tedder, his half-brother and junior groomsman, Daniel Sykes, 13, and best man, Brandon Mintz, 19, were inside a red Honda Prelude when it was struck by another vehicle at 3:09 p.m. Sunday on N.C. Highway 214, between Lake Waccamaw and Hallsboro.

The state Highway Patrol said a Chrysler Sebring convertible, driven by John Daniel Kelley, 43, of Whiteville, veered across the center line and hit the Prelude head on. Everyone inside the Prelude was killed.

Several empty containers of alcoholic drinks were found in Kelley's car, troopers said.

"I'm angry, but I can't hate him. That's not the Christian thing to do, and that's not what Brandon would want. Yeah, Brandon would be mad as fire, but I can't let that man hinder my spirituality. And I can't let that man keep me out of heaven,” Bonham said.

John Kelley was driving with his 17-year-old son, Michael. The son wasn't seriously hurt, but the father was listed Tuesday afternoon in serious condition at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

After John Kelley's blood sample was taken for analysis, he was charged with driving while impaired. Highway Patrol trooper Scott Floyd said the district attorney is reviewing more serious charges.


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  • cth1 Apr 23, 2009

    TheAdmiral--"should we ban people who drive while on Tylenol".... are you serious?? I don't think the people that die from Tylenold die from driving while taking Tylenol.....they die from misuse..overdose...or, mixing with other meds. This guy got behind the wheel of a car after drinking... he knew it was illegal and did it anyway. He should face 3 charges of 1st degree murder!!! My heart goes out to the bride and to the 17 year old child that is left to pick up the pieces from such a horrific tragedy!

  • JuanGrande v3.0 Apr 22, 2009

    DUI drivers that kill someone should receive an automatic death penalty

  • Boot-the-DC-Tyrant Apr 22, 2009

    why do the drunks always live?!?

  • TheAdmiral Apr 22, 2009

    More people were still killed by Tylenol than Drunk Drivers in the US. So we should ban people who drive while on Tylenol.

  • TheLiberalIntellect Apr 22, 2009

    Drunk Driving took this woman's fiance on what was supposed to be the greatest day of her life. I think that this should be a wakeup call to the state. Something HAS to be done. People CANNOT continue to drive drunk. Drunk drivers have hurt my family and now they have taken away this woman's world. My heart goes out to her and all others affected by the subhuman specices of mongrel that are drunkdrivers.

  • NC Reader Apr 22, 2009

    The few times I have heard people joke about driving home drunk, I have told them that if they ever do that again, I hope that they kill themselves before killing anyone else. That usually stops the conversation.

  • NC Reader Apr 22, 2009

    "Instead of being all over cigarettes, how about giving a little attention to alcohol and its deadly effects? LaLa-Land

    Amen to that. I am sick of people so against second hand smoke which has far less injury then drunk driving."

    Both alcohol and nicotine are problems in our society. As much as I detest smoking, I'd far rather come up against someone on the road who's under the influence of nicotine, or even actively smoking, than someone who's been drinking. Moreover, alcohol is a factor in many murders, assaults, and other crimes, whereas nicotine probably does not rank high on that list. I'm willing to guess that, when you factor in drunk driving and the effects of alcohol on families and the crime rate, alcohol messes up far more lives than nicotine.

  • Adelinthe Apr 22, 2009

    Those who drive while under the influence are just as responsible as someone who picks up a loaded gun.

    When they point it at someone and it results in their injury or death, the sentence for both should be the same - and it should be huge.

    No More Kid Gloves!!!

    God bless.


  • haggis basher Apr 22, 2009

    "Amen to that. I am sick of people so against second hand smoke which has far less injury then drunk driving."
    Two wrongs do not make a right......and do you have figures to back up what you say?

  • 2beachy4u Apr 22, 2009

    Putting a breathalizer in every car will not work. If someone is drunk and wants to drive, they will find someone sober to blow so they can crank their car and go. I know someone who tried this. I think they need to start charging these drunk drivers that injure people with attempted murder and if they kill someone, first degree murder. It is pretty much premeditated when they get behind the wheel of a car under the influence knowing they could wreck and hurt someone. I have no sympathy for drunk drivers. There needs to be a stricter punishment so society will realize that it is not ok. My thoughts and prayers go out to these families and friends that lost their loved ones. The fiance is an amazing woman. I admire her for her viewpoint on this. God bless her!