GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- On Dec. 18, 2016, Carlton Bannerman was driving through Greensboro on the way to Reidsville to visit family for the holidays. His wife Vickie, their children Cameron and Victoria, and their dog Coolyay were in the vehicle.
They were on Interstate 40 when they were involved in a rollover car accident with a tractor-trailer. Their 11-year-old daughter, Victoria, was killed in the crash and Coolyay was gone.
"When the car finally stopped flipping and I got out of the seat belt, I turned around and looked for my kids. I saw one, I did not see the other and so I screamed for her and Carlton got out of the car," Vickie Bannerman said.
The family is completely heartbroken at the loss of Victoria.
"She really loved to engage with friends and did well in school, really adored her big brother. One of her favorite things was family time," Vickie said.
Less than two years apart, the kids did everything together and Coolyay was usually there too.
"He needs that companionship because his sister -- they were just two little peas in a little bitty pod and they're military children so, you know, if they had no one else, they had each other," Vickie said.
For nearly two weeks, Coolyay roamed northern Greensboro until he turned up in Lisa Gonzalez's yard. Gonzalez happens to be a rescue dog worker and knew instantly she should try to capture Coolyay.
"I felt pretty confident that he belonged to someone," Gonzalez said. She set a safe trap, captured him, had his microchip checked and discovered he belonged to the Bannerman family.
"If we could do one thing to bring some happiness to their lives then we wanted to do that for them," Gonzalez said.
Now, animal lovers of Guilford County are coming together to pay for Coolyay to be boarded at Almost Home Boarding and Grooming and be taken more than 1,600 miles back to New Mexico.
"No family member should have to go through what this family is going through. But to love a dog like they obviously love this dog and then to be separated from this dog at this time, it is important to us to see this dog reunited," Tammy Graves said.
Graves is the president of The Haley Graves Foundation, a dog rescue in Guilford County. Her organization is picking up the bill for much of the costs associated with Coolyay's boarding. Graves is also helping coordinate Coolyay's transportation home.
When the Bannermans heard what people in Greensboro were trying to do to reunite them with Coolyay, they were so happy for their son and say they are so thankful.
They say having Coolyay back will make their home seem a just little bit more normal.
"It's not just a pet for a child who's just lost his sister, it is something that we could not have done," Vickie said. "Coolyay will take away a bit of loneliness and for us that just means everything," Vickie said.
If you would like to help send Coolyay home, you can donate to help take care of the costs associated with his transport. Go to GoFundMe's website and search "Project Deliver Coolyay Home."