Fund-raiser planned for families of November crash victims

aramos@newsobserver.comJanuary 2, 2014 

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    The Forever in Our Hearts benefit will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Hog Heaven Motocross Arena, 5760 Percy Strickland Road, Godwin. All proceeds will benefit the families of the five crash victims.

Helping the families of five young people involved a tragic Harnett County crash has become a community effort.

On Saturday, the Forever in Our Hearts event is being held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Hog Heaven Motocross Arena, 5760 Percy Strickland Road in Godwin, to raise money for the victims’ families.

The event will feature live music, an auction, raffles, carriage rides, motorcross demonstrations, concessions and a bake sale. There’s no charge for admission, but donations will be accepted.

Proceeds will be split between the five families of childhood friends Shane Mitchell Garner, 23, of Coats, Austin Stewart Ferrell, 20, of Buies Creek, Casey Dell Edens, 16, of Lillington, and Autumn Ashlyn Zimmer, 17, and Marina Troyano, 17, both of Fuquay-Varina.

Garner, Ferrell and Edens were all killed when Garner drove through a police checkpoint at 2:30 a.m. Nov. 10 and lost control of the 2013 Chevrolet pick-up. According to a State Highway Patrol report online, the truck was traveling an estimated 90 mph in a 55 mph zone on Neills Creek Road near Buies Creek and slammed into a tree at 60 mph and before bursting into flames.

Zimmer and Troyano, both students at Harnett County Central High School, survived the crash, but suffered severe injuries.

Everything for the benefit has been donated in the outpouring of support from business and individuals, according to event co-organizer Tammy Jones of Fuquay-Varina.

“It’s not just a fundraiser, it’s an emotional (outlet). A chance for everyone to come and get together and support the community,” Jones said.

Attendees are being asked to bring a photo of someone they’ve lost to the event. Sky lanterns will be released in their honor.

For the families of the five young people, the support has been a lifeline.

Troyano still faces an uphill battle to recover. She was released Monday after 50 days at WakeMed in Raleigh, according to Hawanna Johnson.

Johnson has been serving as a spokeswoman for the family, creating the Praying for the Recovery of Marina Troyano, a Facebook page which she updates several times daily.

“(Marina) is amazed at how all these people love her and they have never met,” Johnson said.

The family’s financial challenges include physical therapy for Troyano and a tutor to help her catch up to her junior-year classmates, Johnson said.

“We are so in awe of community and individuals,” said Kim Campbell, Edens’ aunt. “It is almost hard to find words to say how grateful we are. ...The people who have stepped up, they don't know these families. They are giving up their personal time. I’m absolutely speechless... It's about a community coming together to heal.”

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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