People near and far, familiar and unknown, have come together to support the family of a state transportation worker killed by a motorist suspected of driving while impaired.
Grey Bailey, 35, of Kenly died instantly when stuck by a car around 11 a.m. March 23. At the time, Bailey was working in the median of U.S. 70 near Capps Bridge Road, about five miles east of Princeton and five miles west of Goldsboro.
Bailey left behind twin 18-month-old daughters and a wife, Millie, who said he was a loving husband to her, a devoted father to his children and an attentive son to his parents.
“His family was his No. 1 priority,” she said, adding that his love for people extended beyond blood ties.
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“He never met a stranger, and he always had a smile on his face.”
Bailey was a hard worker who loved his job with the DOT, Millie said, and he was a handyman who could fix just about anything. He graduated from North Johnston High School in 1998, and he was a proud 14-year firefighter with the Bethany Volunteer Fire Department.
Her husband preferred to spend his free time outdoors, where he liked to fish, hunt and spend time in boats, Millie said. On Sundays, he attended Bethany Missionary Baptist Church.
Since the tragedy, Millie said, people have reached out to help her and the girls.
“Even the first day, the support from the community has just been overwhelming,” she said.
That first night, friends and family were doing their best to console Millie when two of them – Paige Jernigan and Jack Thorpe – decided to take action. Their idea was to raise money for the family, so Jernigan opened a bank account and Thorpe set up a donation page online at gofundme.com/greybailey.
The response took everyone by surprise.
Donations started rolling in as soon the website went live, Thorpe said, and in a week, the effort had raised about $50,000. As people shared the link on social media, support came not only from those who knew the Bailey family but also from strangers in other states.
Nothing can bring Grey back, Thorpe said, but he hopes the donations will lift some of the financial burden of off Millie’s shoulders.
“Anything that a group of friends can do to try to ease some of that hurt some how, we would do,” Thorpe said. “He was just a really, really good Christian man and was so good to her.”
As of Tuesday, more than 700 people had donated online, with the largest contribution coming from a couple who never met Bailey. Eric and Brooke Sykes contributed $1,225, which they raised through a 50-50 raffle at Southern National Motorsports Park.
“As we all know, there are some bad people in this world,” the couple wrote. “Tonight we were reminded that there are some really kind ones as well. We will continue to pray for you and your family.”
Tahisha Monique Dukette, 28, of Princeton drove the vehicle that struck Bailey, according to reports.
Dukette was charged with felony death by vehicle, driving while impaired and two counts of child endangerment, said Sgt. Maurice Devall of the N.C. Highway Patrol.
The DWI charge resulted from Dukette failing a field sobriety test, Devall said, adding that Dukette is suspected of having taken a depressant for which she had a prescription. The Highway Patrol filed the child-endangerment charges because Dukette had her two children, ages 2 and 9, in the car, Devall said.
Dukette has her first court date Thursday.