GoFundMe account to cover Feree expenses

Published 9:54 am Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A fund has been set up to pay to transport one of the two youths killed when they were hit by a pickup back to his native state and to cover funeral expenses.

Just 23 hours after it was set up, the GoFundMe account had raised $4,225 of the goal of $8,000 to transport 19-year-old Alex Ferree back to Sparta, Tenn., and bury him there, where his family resides.

Ferree, who was living in Victoria, and 17-year-old Datrail A. Barnes, of Kenbridge, were killed Sunday when David E. Wells, 48, of Victoria, driving a 2014 Ford F-150 traveling south on Route 49, came through a thick patch of fog and encountered the two teenagers walking in the southbound travel lane. “The pickup was unable to avoid the pedestrians and struck them,” a state police statement said.

Both youths died at the scene. The accident occurred at 4:31 a.m., just outside of Victoria. Ferree and Barnes, who had left a friend’s house and were walking home, were dressed in dark clothing.

The accident is under investigation by the Virginia State Police, and no charges have been placed.

A memorial was held 8:50 a.m. Wednesday, March 9, at the Central High School flag pole for the teens.

Counselors have been available to the students, a spokesperson for the system said. The system has also posted condolences on its webpage, noting the system “extends its deepest sympathies to the families who lost loved ones in the tragic accident … Our thoughts and prayers are with those involved in this tragic accident.”

Donna Minnix created the GoFundMe account on March 7. She explained on the page its creation was to help Tina Howard keep her promise “to do right by” Ferree “and make sure he had a proper burial back in Sparta.”

GoFundMe is a crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for events ranging from life events such as celebrations and graduations to challenging circumstances like accidents and illnesses.

“I have set this account up on behalf of Alex with Tina to ensure that all is accounted for and she can make her promise come true for Alex whom she loved as her own son,” Minnix explained.

“Our small town of Victoria always manages to pull together in a time of need. I hope that everyone can find it in their hearts to donate any amount to help his family and friends in Victoria, as well has his family and friends in Sparta.”

The explanation noted Ferree moved to Victoria to start a new life and new beginning.

“He often struggled with life but seemed to make the best of it.  Once here … (h)e finally found the love and a life to look forward to.”

Among the comments, Howard thanked “each and every one of you” for donating.

“He was just a great kid,” she wrote. “(He) had is whole life ahead of him but God had a better plan.”

Later, Shelly Ferree Bilbrey wrote, “This is truly amazing to know there are so many kind giving hearts , I wish I could come hug everyone one of you personally! Thank you Tina Howard for doing this for Alex … Much thanks to everyone!”