Triple fatal crash leaves community in mourning
Posted June 6, 2011 11:41 a.m. EDT
Updated June 7, 2011 10:56 p.m. EDT
Wake Forest, N.C. — 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.
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.
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."