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Triple fatal crash leaves community in mourning

Posted June 6, 2011
Updated June 7, 2011

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— A community is grieving over the loss of three Wake Forest-Rolesville High School students who were killed in a wreck Sunday evening that also left a fourth teen in critical condition.

The four teens were returning home from Rolesville Baptist Church around 8:40 p.m. when the driver, Austin Leonard Flowers, 16, of Wake Forest, lost control of his Dodge Challenger and crashed into a tree at the intersection of Old Pearce and Zebulon roads near Wake Forest, Sgt. Kevin Shallington, with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, said.

Flowers, Lane Meyer, 16, of Wake Forest, and Matt Speight, 17, of Raleigh, died in the wreck.

Brenden Pearce, 16, of Wake Forest, was airlifted to WakeMed and was in critical condition Monday evening.

Speed appeared to be a contributing factor in the wreck, Shallington said. Alcohol was not a factor, and everyone in the car was wearing a seat belt.

Wake Forest wreck vigil Vigil mourns teens killed in Wake Forest wreck

Friends and family devastated by the loss mourned at a vigil Monday evening at the Trentini Football Stadium at the high school. 

Throughout Monday, classmates and friends visited the church and the crash site. Three wooden crosses adorned by flowers now mark the scene.

"I don't even know what to say. When I heard it, I just fell down on my knees and broke down," classmate Lee Danku said.

The teens were athletes and active members of their church.

"They were just great kids," Jeff Pethel, a youth pastor at Rolesville Baptist, said. "They were the kind of kids you wanted hanging around with your kids.

Triple fatal crash leaves community in mourning Triple fatal crash leaves community in mourning

By Monday afternoon, dozens of people had posted comments on a Facebook page in Flowers' memory, describing him as "an amazing athlete" who played football and baseball.

"Austin, you were such a nice young man. We all will miss you," one person wrote. "Our prayers go out to your wonderful family. May God take good care of you [until] your parents can be with you again in heaven."

"Love ya man, hold it down in Heaven until we all reunite," another poster wrote.

Speight would have celebrated his 18th birthday on Friday, the same day he was to graduate from Wake Forest-Rolesville High, his father, David Speight, said.

He arrived at the crash site early Monday morning to pray for his son, whom he described as having a love for God, family and sports – especially the Boston Red Sox and Florida State.

"Matthew is in a good spot," David Speight said. "He's in the best place he can be, and I'm sure he's saying, 'Mom, Dad, I'm OK. Move on.'"

Coincidentally, David Speight said, his son's brother had recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq.

"We were commenting last night that he was over in Iraq and made it through over there unharmed," David Speight said. "Then, something like this happens in your own back yard, and there's nothing you can do about it."

He said he had also talked to his son at great lengths about fast driving.

"When you hear something happen like this to other families, it's a terrible thing," he said. "But when you're involved, when it's one of your children, it really hits home."


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  • coastalgrandparents Jun 9, 2011

    This is a tragedy that keeps repeating itself over and over. My thoughts and prayers are with the families at this time. I cannot imagine what any of them are feeling. The same thing recently happened to a family I know. The young driver walked away and the even younger teen passenger died. The teen driver cannot get his permit now until he is 21. He walks around so smug and still causes trouble. I keep thinking how can you or your parents even show your face and act as you do knowing that you killed an innocent teen when you got behind the wheel and broke the law by having too many young teens in the car with you. Having said that, the grief on either side has to be horrible. It cannot be easy for these three families to have lost their child and it cannot be easy for the family of the survivor to deal with this either. Placing blame on the parents is not fair. HOWEVER as the parent of a 17 year old I feel it is my place to know where they are and what they are doing.

  • tammyking2 Jun 8, 2011

    I want to first send my condolences and prayers to all the families of these young men. May God be with you all. I am heading for my third teenager getting a license. We were lucky with the first two. No tickets, no wrecks, no rules broken that we know of. We provided BIG SLOW cars to start with limited all driving as much as possible and friends were not allowed in the vehicles. Having said that I take no credit, again, we were LUCKY. I would be hard put with an upcoming 15 year old to criticize any parents involved in this tragedy, if my third and last child avoids any of the pitfalls and tragedy of the teen years I will simply count my blessings and keep my mouth shut. These were kids being kids. I know there were plenty of times when I was younger that it was only by the grace of God I climbed out of a car in one piece. We have already imposed a ridiculous set of rules on these kids license, that doesn't seem to be helping. They are making so many decisions so quickly at

  • egarrison2 Jun 8, 2011

    My twins went to Elm. school w/Lane. He was the sweetest most soft spoken boy you could have ever known..what a shock and a tragedy to lose him. We are praying for the families, and for Brenden who also went to elm. school with my twins. My heart just breaks for this family, and I will be holding my precious 16 year old daughters a little tighter in my arms.

  • sbertics Jun 8, 2011

    Nobody is really to blame in this tragedy. We're talking about teenagers making bad decisions. Most people can look back at when they were teens and have a story where they say, "I was (15, 16, 17), and I went and did (reckless or dangerous activity), god we were dumb, thankfully nobody got hurt.". It's part of being a teenager. Even "good" teenagers do this, its just part of being a teenager. Unfortunately, statistics eventually catch up, and then we get tragedies like this. Most teenagers will drive too fast, drive recklessly, or not pay attention while driving at some point. Most teenagers will get away with it and live to look back and shake their heads at the dumb things they did. The fact that fate calls someone's number periodically isn't something that we as a society can change, any more than we could stop having traffic accidents all-together. Could-have, would-have and should-have is pointless and irrelevant. It happens. It just happens. Period.

  • calynn Jun 8, 2011

    Comparing a civic to a SRT-8 Challenger is ridiculous. A Honda will not do 150+. Teenage boys do not need this... This is the result. This car was driving closer to 150 than 100.

  • ben pergerson Jun 8, 2011

    this is deff not a time for criticism... for someone to say the parents had more money than since is not what is needed to be said. i guarentee that everyone who has bought there car a vehicle in the past 5 years didnt think about the fact that it would do over 100. if you parents would have bought you a nice car when you were in school you telling me you wouldnt have loved it? though there could have been a little more practical car it doesnt really matter. challenger or ford explorer all vehicles are dangerous. if you have never sped in your life then you can talk but i can guarentee that everyone on here has went fast and some point in there life. so no criticism from me personally knowing one of the familys and one of the boys i can say my heart and prayers are with them.

  • toxic6562 Jun 8, 2011

    Years ago there was a program on TV called "Scared Straight". It was a harsh look at prison life to try to "scare" kids and keep them out of jail. I'm sick of hearing of high school age kids getting killed in car accidents...no matter who is at fault. Is there some way that the NC Department of Transportation can do a program for high schools called "Scared Safe"...show them pictures or videos of wrecks, of mangled cars, of destroyed lives, of mangled bodies. Yes, it will be gross! Yes they will cringe! But parents and schools need to do more to keep our young children alive while behind the wheel. Scare these kids into driving safe. Let them know that it's NOT cool to drive 100mph! It's NOT cool to zip in and out traffic like a daredevil. Dying in a car accident is NOT cool! SCARE them into driving safe!

  • Whosays Jun 8, 2011

    Just so tragic, I hope this shows other teens why it is not a good idea to speed. May Gods comfort fall upon the families as they say good-bye but "see you later".

  • hiiiii Jun 7, 2011

    I'm pretty sure the last thing these parents that lost their children need is criticism from complete strangers. My 2003 Honda Accord can reach up to speeds of over 100 miles per hour. Any car built in this day and time can easily reach those speeds if you let it. The fact that the parents allowed or the boy drove a 2011 Dodge Charger is a mute point. It was only a very, very bad decision that ended in the worst possible way. So how about we all have a little bit of freakin sympathy and keep everyone touched by this awful tragedy in our thoughts and prayers instead of playing the finger pointing game. Matthew, Lane, Austin & Brenden, may God be with you.

  • Whosays Jun 7, 2011

    I am sorry if you are 16 in NC you can only have one other rider in the car.