The father of an 11-year-boy who died Tuesday in a fiery wreck on Interstate 40 is raising money online to help pay for the child’s funeral expenses.
Ricardo Nunez, 32, of Raleigh set up a GoFundMe site Wednesday, one day after his son, Isaiah Jones, died in the crash near Benson in Johnston County. The account had raised about $2,000 by Thursday afternoon.
Nunez’s younger son, 9-year-old Daniel Jones, remains in the intensive care unit at UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill. The boys’ mother, Angela Jones, 32, was also hospitalized with serious injuries, the state Highway Patrol reported.
Nunez said his sons and their mom were getting ready for a trip when the accident occurred.
“They were on their way to pick up their mom’s friend and her kids and go to the beach,” Nunez said Thursday.
Jones was driving a 2005 Nissan Murano eastbound on I-40 around 1 p.m. Tuesday when she attempted to make a U-turn in the median and was struck from behind by another vehicle, the Highway Patrol said. The Nissan struck a guardrail, swerved into the westbound lanes and was struck by another vehicle and a tractor-trailer.
Motorists who witnessed the accident told 911 dispatchers the Nissan came to rest in the roadway, went up in flames and then exploded with Jones and the two boys inside.
Isaiah died at the scene, said Sgt. Michael Baker, a spokesman with the Highway Patrol.
Isaiah was a fifth-grade student at Fred A. Smith Elementary School in Garner, Nunez said. Daniel was a third-grade student.
Nunez said he last spoke with Isaiah the day before the accident.
“I always told them the same thing,” he said. “I told them that I love them, respect their mother, behave and be a gentleman. I always wanted my boys to be gentlemen and respect their mother.”
He said Isaiah was a “good kid” who loved his friends and loved cooking and eating. His favorite foods were pizza, strawberry shortcake and cookies and ice cream cake.
Isaiah weighed between 180 and 200 pounds and was 5-feet-4, according to his father.
“He was a big boy,” Nunez said. “I was about to sign him up for football. He always wanted to play football, but more than anything he loved being a big brother. That’s what’s going to be the hardest thing.”
He’s grateful Daniel and Jones survived.
“I’m trying to plan for a funeral and I don’t know how I’m going to do it,” Nunez said. “I think about my dead son every hour, every minute, every day. It’s killing me. I need him back so bad. I been praying to God and hoping this is a bad dream and I’ll wake up. But I know this is so real.”
To donate to the GoFundMe site, go to http://bit.ly/2pbAQTS.