'This is so painful.' Balloons released, prayer vigil held for 5 teens killed in Raleigh crash
Posted October 17, 2021 7:39 a.m. EDT
Updated October 19, 2021 9:55 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A vehicle traveling at about 80 mph ran off the right side of southbound Capital Boulevard early Sunday and slammed into a concrete bridge abutment, killing the five teens inside, Raleigh police said.
The crash occurred at about 6 a.m. where the Fairview Road bridge crosses over Capital Boulevard. A 13-year-old, two 14-year-olds and two 17-year-old boys were killed in the crash, according to police.
Family members identified the 13-year-old boy as Mi-Keal Freeman and one of the 17-year-old boys as Jeremiah Williams. Freeman was a student and football player for Carroll Magnet Middle School in Raleigh and Williams was a student at Lumberton Senior High School in Lumberton.
Melvin Chambers coached Freeman at Carroll Middle School.
"He was a good student. [He had a] level head on his shoulders, [and] picked up a lot of good information and he was a team leader," he described.
Williams' mother, Rashema Morris, said her son and Freeman were cousins, and that Williams leaves behind a twin brother.
"[I'm] so lost for words," said Morris.
Morris said that she also lost her 1-year-old son last year, just days before his birthday.
"I don't know what to do. I'm still grieving for my last son, and now, I've got to bury my son and my nephew at the same time. I just don't know what to do," said Morris.
The 14-year-old boys killed in the crash were identified as Zymeer Dennis, who was a ninth-grader at Wake Forest High School, and Lebron Staton, who attended Ligon Middle School in Raleigh.
"This is so painful -- to lose five precious young people," said Clarence Dale, who knew Dennis when he attended East Millbrook Middle School.
None of the five was wearing a seatbelt, police said.
The crash, which closed the southbound lanes for a few hours Sunday morning, remains under investigation.
On Monday night, loved ones of the teens gathered for a prayer vigil at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens in Raleigh, while hundreds filled Spring Forest Road park for a balloon release in honor of their lives.
"None of us parents are going to get our kids back ... not one of us," said Williams' father Chris Morris.
Family and friends said they're still struggling to process how five young men could be taken so soon.
"It hurts ... I don't want to see none of y'all go through this," said Morris. "It's still so new. I don't know what to do."