RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — A Randolph County family hopes to turn a tragedy into a message to prevent teenagers from drinking and driving after a 16-year-old died in a crash this weekend.
North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers say Colby Haithcock, 16, was killed around 2:20 a.m. Sunday in a drunk driving crash on Bumpas Road.
Troopers say the driver, Evan Deforge, 17, of Pleasant Garden, was driving a GMC Sierra pickup truck when he came around a curve. Evan veered off to the right, overcorrected and went left of the center line, before driving off the other side of the road. The truck hit several trees and overturned.
Colby’s family says he died on impact.
Evan is being treated at Moses Cone Hospital and is charged with DWI. When the toxicology report returns, investigators plan to consult with the District Attorney to see if more charges will be filed.
Neither teen was wearing a seat belt.
Two days after the crash, Colby’s family is holding on to the things they loved most about the 16-year-old.
“His smile, always happy,” said David Anderson, his stepdad. “The things he loves in life — deer hunting, four-wheel riding and big diesel trucks. That’s Colby in a heartbeat.”
Colby and Evan were classmates at Providence Grove High School and carpooled there together every day.
“There’s no ill towards any of the other families involved, because unfortunately as many conversations as you have with a child, he’s 16,” Anderson said. “He made his own decision.”
Anderson says the teens were staying at a friend’s house the night of the crash.
“You can just see it playing out, when they were all hanging out, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go out and go jump in a truck and go do crazy things with it,'” he said. “And Colby, you can just see him getting excited and he jumped in the vehicle.”
The crash happened just down the road from where the teens were staying. Anderson says a group of friends rushed to the crashed truck and got there before first responders.
“The kids were trying to rip the dash apart to get them out,” he said. “This young lady was holding Evan’s heading head and comforting him and holding Colby’s head. She said she [was] screaming at him to wake up.”
Now, the family is working to find a silver lining in their grief. Colby’s parents decided to donate his corneas, bone marrow, skin, heart valves and veins, helping countless others who may not have had a chance without him.
“Colby will live on helping other people,” Anderson said.
Anderson hopes his stepson’s story can have an even bigger impact. He hopes other teens will think of Colby before they ever get behind the wheel drunk or get in a car with someone who has been drinking.
“If you find yourself in a situation where you’re doing the hanging out with friends and drinking, you know, besides the fact that it’s not legal, you just have to be smarter to not allow people around you in a vehicle, not let somebody drive away,” Anderson said. “Don’t get in a vehicle with somebody if you can’t stop them. Don’t put families in this position.”
Anderson also has a message to other parents.
“You’re not going to control your teenager, not as much as you think you are,” he said. “They’re going to find the way to do things they want to do. Just talk to them. Try to make them understand as much as they can. A hard-headed teenager, right? Share the story.”
Colby’s family wants you to help share the message too. Use #RollCoal4Colby on social media.
Anderson says Colby loved big diesel trucks, and when you see one revving its engine and letting off lots of black smoke, it’s called “rolling coal.”
The family asks others to post videos of people rolling coal along with a message against drinking and driving in hopes that someone else doesn’t lose a child because of it.
Visitation for Colby will take place Thursday, Feb. 15, at Whites Memorial Baptist Church in Franklinville.