Four killed in wreck remembered with riverfront candlelight vigil

Jan. 14, 2013 @ 08:07 PM

On the bank of the Cape Fear River, candlelight reflected and bounced off the water as loved ones gathered in memory of the four people killed in a Saturday morning car accident.

Hundreds gathered Monday night at the Avents Ferry Road Boat Ramps for a candlelight vigil in memory of Aaron David Powers, Kathy May Powers, Chris Gray Baker and Becky Lynn Powell, who were all killed in the accident. 

Aaron Powers, 31, and his wife Kathy Powers, 35, both of Sanford, Baker, 33, of Broadway, and his girlfriend Powell, 38, of Chapin, S.C., were killed in the single-vehicle accident early Saturday morning at the 600 block of Swanns Station Road. Law enforcement agencies responded to the accident at 2:34 a.m. after the vehicle reportedly ran off the road, hit a tree and struck a vacant home, igniting both the car and house, said N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Steven Spivey. Speed was a contributing factor in the accident, he said. 

Kaye Johnson, a close friend of Kathy Powers for many years, helped organize the vigil at the boat ramp because it was a significant place for the friends. The group, she said, were "good country folk" who raised their children with strong, moral values.

"It was our special spot," Johnson said. "We'd visit here on the weekends. I am just heartbroken. I'm broke. It's the only way to describe it."

Jimmy Byrd, another close friend of the four, said they all were wonderful people.

"They had hearts of gold," he said. "I'm in shock and disbelief. It's hard to lose so many friends at one time. I love them all and will miss them."

Glenn Lucas, who was Baker's roommate and knew him for several years, said Baker and Powell really loved each other. 

"They will be dearly missed," Lucas said. "The world is a lesser place without them."

After a brief word from Johnson and prayer from the Rev. Randy McMillan, friends huddled together listening to music playing through speakers; Some shared stories, laughing, crying or standing in silence. People carved or wrote "Chris & Becky" or "Kathy & Aaron" with a heart on the plastic cups that collected the candle wax. 

James Byrd helped clear the debris Saturday and said his late father had once lived in the damaged home.

"May God almighty touch, strengthen and guide the loved ones' families and friends through this as they rest in God's plan," he said in a written statement. "The pain of experiencing this soul-permeating trauma has saddened me greatly. I was there early and saw all about I could stand. Houses can be restored. Only God can give life."

It took law enforcement officers more than 20 minutes to extinguish the fire, Spivey said.  

"I do want to say thank you to the Cape Fear Fire Department as well as the Lee County Sheriff's Office who helped us shut down the fire and get a hold of the families," Spivey said.