Local News

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

Posted April 21, 2009 6:06 p.m. EDT
Updated April 22, 2009 2:24 p.m. EDT

— 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.

"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.