Hundreds of people donated thousands of dollars to support the families of two North Carolina teenagers slain by a wrong-way driver who also died.
“A tragic situation for all involved,” Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough Jr. said on Facebook Friday when he released the name of the driver he said caused the wreck. “We give our condolences to all who are affected by this.”
According to Kimbrough, the driver, 29-year-old Walnut Cove resident Joseph Brandon Smith, was in a stolen automobile and refused to stop for deputies before the accident on U.S. 74 West on Monday.
Madison Grotschel, 18, of Kernersville, and her boyfriend, Jayce Haverkos, 19, of Tobaccoville, were in the car hit head-on by Smith, according to WXII, quoting the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
According to WGHP, deputies began following Smith on Baux Mountain Road near Dolphin Drive in the Germanton section of the county.
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According to WFMY, Smith exited onto US 74 westbound. According to the station, he did a U-turn at the bottom of the entry ramp and drove into oncoming traffic.
Grotschel’s aunt, Tamara Grillone, wrote on GoFundMe that the children died quickly, as the fundraising she launched in her niece’s memory approached its $16,000 target on Saturday.
Grillone revealed that her niece was graduating from high school this month.
“Losing a child is not something our family had planned for,” she wrote on Go Fund Me. “It has been an incredibly difficult few days, and the last thing that my sister should be worried about is covering the cost of her daughter’s funeral.”
By Saturday afternoon, 254 people had given a total of $15,895 to the cause.
In addition, 108 people donated $6,068 to a Go Fund Me page set up by Jayce’s mother’s twin sister. Jayce’s aunt on Gund Fund Me described the teens’ deaths as “horrible and senseless.”
Wrote a woman who donated $20: “I lost my son in August 2022 at age 31. No parent should have to bury a child. My heart goes out to you all.”
“Our hearts ache for you,” a couple who donated $200 wrote. “Please know we are praying for you all and are sending big hugs and loads of love.”