GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) – Three families’ lives have been changed forever, and a Guilford County community is in mourning.
In a split second, three people died in a crash North Carolina State Highway Patrol said could have been prevented.
According to the NCSHP, wet roads, speed and a young driver factored into a horrific crash on N.C. 61 in Guilford County Saturday.
State Troopers told FOX8 Alexio Lattero, 16, was driving too fast for the road conditions, lost control of the vehicle and hit an SUV driven by a Greensboro firefighter.
Longtime firefighter Richard “Rick” Murrell, 58, died along with Lattero’s older sister, Anna Lattero, and a 15-year-old his family said the teenager loved with all his heart.
A memorial is set up at the crash site on N.C. 61 near Turner Smith Road and at a Downtown Gibsonville establishment, Reno’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, which is owned by the Lattero family.
“It didn’t hit me, and then they’re closed,” said Kayla Davis, a frequent customer of the business. “Every day I’d pull up to work, and they’re open, and I’d see people, and I get to go get ice or a salad at the salad bar, and it just becomes very real.”
Several people, including Davis, stopped by the restaurant to add to the memorial created by the community.
“I’ve been searching for something to do…a sticky note,” she said. “I remember congratulating him [Lattero] when he got his license in May.”
The messages are not just for the Lattero family. Some are also in honor of the longtime Greensboro firefighter, a man the Lattero family knows will be missed.
After all, Lattero was a junior volunteer firefighter with Fire Station 28 in Gibsonville.
A statement released by the Lattero family said they are praying for Murrell’s wife, Tonya Murell, 50, who was critically injured.
The full statement is provided below:
“On behalf of the Lattero family, we would like to express our deepest and most sincere condolences to the family of Rick and Tonya Murrell. We are praying for Tonya’s recovery and peace for their three children as fiercely as we are praying for our own. We would also like to express our sympathies to the Greensboro Fire Department as they cope with the loss of their fellow brother.
We are also praying for the family of a dear friend who passed in the accident. We loved her dearly, and Alexio loved her with all of his heart. She lit up a room with her infectious smile and was so beautiful and intelligent. She put a smile on Alexio’s face every time they were together. We are praying for peace for her family, and at this time, we are requesting privacy for the family to grieve their loss.
We are devasted by the loss of our sweet Anna. The best sister, daughter, aunt and friend. She loved hard and was so protective and nurturing to her siblings. She and Alexio were best friends and shared an unbreakable bond. She loved her family, her best friend, Hailey, and her job, and she took pride in those things in her life. Words cannot express how deep of a void we are feeling right now.
We would like to thank everyone for their continued thoughts and prayers for Alexio. His physical condition is improving daily. He has a long recovery ahead of him, and we appreciate the continued support from our family, friends, and the community.
We would also like to thank the good Samaritans and the first responders who arrived quickly. We appreciate everything you all do on a daily basis and our prayers are with you all.
We do not even know where to begin to process everything that has happened. This was a horrible, tragic accident. The weather combined with the road conditions created the perfect storm, and now three families have lost their cherished loved ones. We know this is going to be a long and continuous road, and we pray for strength and peace for all families involved.
We appreciate all of the kind messages, thoughts and prayers. We ask for respect and privacy for all of the involved families at this time as we grieve and plan for the difficult days ahead.”
State Troopers told FOX8 that Lattero would be released from the hospital soon. He is charged with three counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, exceeding a safe speed and driving left of center.
Lattero’s first court date is scheduled in September.