SARASOTA, Fla. - Family and friends came together to celebrate the lives of Donald and Crystal Howard in Florida on Friday. The couple was killed in a crash in Morgan County on Halloween night.
The Newborn residents were running to the store to pick up face paint for their children’s costumes when they ran off the road and struck a tree on Broughton Road. They died at the scene.
It was a Georgia State Patrol trooper that had the sad task of telling the couple’s four children of their death, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. Instead, Trooper Nathan Bradley took one look at Justin, Amiah, Daimean and Trayvion, who range in age from 13 to 6 years old, all dressed in their costumes and decided to do something extraordinary.
Trooper Bradley got permission to take charge of the children until their grandmother could drive up from Sarasota, Florida. He took the quartet out, treating them to whatever they wanted. They even ended up adorned with crowns. He later said it was his way to “preserving those kids" as he put it; protecting them from the terrible news.
That wasn’t all. The trooper established a GoFundMe account for the Howard children that raised nearly a half a million dollars. That money will be placed in an education trust fund for the children, but other donations are pouring in to help the children with relocation, clothes, and funeral expenses for their parents.
“I want to thank the officer that came and took my cousins and still allowed my cousins to enjoy their Halloween on that horrible night," one of their cousins said during Friday’s funeral. "I want to thank everyone who donates to this family because this will help mama and my cousins so much in the future."
In a Florida church, the four Howard children were in the front row peering at two caskets draped in flowers. Surrounding them all was their extended family and friends. Some of the children still do not fully grasp the reality that they will never see their parents again.
"The oldest boy maybe knows what is going on. The rest of the kids just figure they are used to staying with grandma or grandpa they are thinking they are just here on vacation or here for the summer," said Pastor Wesley Tunstall, Jr.
It will be in that cramped house that the Howard children will be staying with their grandmother, Stephanie Oliver. Pastor Tunstall said besides being cramped, he also worries about Oliver’s health. He is hoping the support from family, friends, and the community can help.
Every foot print that the mom and dad took grandma, granddaddy, aunts, uncles, cousins we will all do it with them," said Denedra Moore