Janet Belcher had plans to spend all day Wednesday with her granddaughter, Ashlyn Walden, 18, but a deadly car crash Monday night changed that forever.
” I sent her off beautiful and healthy, expecting to spend tomorrow with her because I’m off work…..but plans change,” Belcher fought back tears as she stood on the side of HWY 45 where her granddaughter and her friend Hershell Hodge Jr., 18, died in a crash just before 11 p.m. Monday night.
Alabama State Trooper say Hershell was driving a 1995 Chevrolet Corvette when he veered off HWY 45 near Arden Road and struck a tree. Neither of the teens were wearing seatbelts and were thrown from the car and pronounced dead at the scene.
Belcher said Walden had a lot to live for and even considered becoming a nurse and starting a family one day. Belcher said that just 10 minutes before the time State Troopers say the crash happened, Walden texted her to say they were running late but were hurrying home.
Becher said she warned them to be careful, but there was no response. ” I knew something was really wrong because it was 12:30 when I texted her the next time. That was not like her. If she told me she’d be home, she’d try to be home.”
Several of Hodge’s friends took to social media to commemorate their memories with the 18-year-old.
“They say the good die young! JR was a great person! He always had a smile and was always messing around with someone! You will truly be missed by many ! Fly high sweet boy!” one friend wrote on Facebook.
“R.I.P to not only a really good friend, but always my go-to. Whenever either of us were going through something, we were always there for each other. You will never be forgotten my dear friend,” another wrote.
State Troopers are still investigating what caused the crash. Spokesperson Jamie Maloy says their deaths mark the 357th and 358th fatality on Alabama roads. He said that’s nearly 100 more deaths than this time last year.
Families of both teenagers have set up separate GOFUNDME accounts to help cover funeral expenses. You can find them here:
GOFUNDME: Hershell Hodge Jr.
GOFUNDME: Ashlyn Walden.