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Vigil Honors Hit-and-Run Victim With 'Big Heart'

"He always tried to put a smile on people's face(s) and just really cared about everybody," Matthew Kraft's girlfriend remembered at the service held at the Chili's restaurant where he worked.

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CARY, N.C. — Family and friends held a candlelight vigil Tuesday night at Kirk of Kildaire Church in honor of 21-year-old Matthew Kraft’s life. It was an emotional tribute.

Friends described Kraft as a person with a big heart.

"He joked around all the time. He always tried to put a smile on people's face(s) and just really cared about everybody," Kraft’s girlfriend, Michelle Dixon, said.

Kraft was killed early Saturday morning while sitting at a traffic light with Dixon.

Police say Kenya Alston was driving drunk when he slammed into the back of Kraft's car at more than 70 mph. Dixon walked away from the fatal crash.

“The whole time in the hospital, I just thought he was going to get up and go ‘just kidding,’ because that's just the type of guy he was," Dixon recalled.

Kraft was a longtime server at the Chili's restaurant in Cary. Managers there organized the vigil for the Pennsylvania native. Kraft's brother also lives in the area and works in the restaurant business.

Co-workers said the Chili's was Kraft's home away from home.

“There is no greater family than the family we have at Chili's in Cary,” General Manager Joey Zelenka said.

Zelenka said the company was grooming Kraft to become a manager. Dixon said that was part of his long-term career plan.

Kraft's parents returned to Pennsylvania Tuesday. Funeral services will be held in his hometown.

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