Christy Lucia was looking to make a donation to a family impacted by last week’s deadly crash in a Fairfax County neighborhood when she realized a fundraising campaign hadn’t yet been launched.
So, she decided to help start a GoFundMe campaign herself. She knows many people because she’s lived in the area “for a long time, and I thought I could maybe spread the word that way,” she told WTOP.
The fundraiser has already collected 670 donations and raised over $50,000 as of Tuesday night. According to the GoFundMe page, the money raised will “pay for medical bills, lost wages, burial fees, and the expense of daily life.”
The Nov. 20 crash, which happened at the intersection of Pioneer Lane and Shreve Road, initially sent six teenagers to the hospital. On Monday, Fairfax County police said one of the passengers died and four others remained in the hospital.
On Monday, in a letter to the school community obtained by WTOP, Longfellow Middle School Principal Jim Patrick said eighth grader Kevin Guardado Landaverde died last weekend.
“Kevin will be remembered for being a friend to others, having a big smile, and a personality that could light up a room,” Patrick wrote.
Lucia said her daughter went to school with Landaverde.
“The kids came home and they were upset about it,” Lucia said. “Then they found out who it was, and it’s been a really hard week. This is a lot for middle schoolers to deal with … They went back to school, and they had therapists and counselors on-site to talk to the kids. It’s been a really sobering experience for a lot of these kids.”
Lucia said she’s using the crash to stress the importance of wearing a seat belt.
A 17-year-old was driving six passengers in a Lincoln Aviator when he lost control of the SUV and hit a tree, Fairfax County police said. Five passengers who weren’t wearing seat belts were ejected from the car. A sixth was extricated from the vehicle.
The driver wore his seat belt, police said, and was arrested at the scene on suspicion of driving under the influence. However, charges haven’t been filed in the case.
“We’ve talked a lot about seat belts and wearing seat belts no matter what,” Lucia said. “It’s night and day, seat belts change lives.”
Lucia also said she has talked to her kids and their friends about underage drinking.
She has mentioned the fact that “even if you’re not driving when you’re intoxicated, you probably don’t have the judgment to put on a seat belt or be selective about who’s driving you. I’ve realized that this really is a problem in our community, in our country, this underage drinking that goes on.”
McLean High School Principal Ellen Reilly “became frustrated, because she said they probably do more to talk about substance abuse and destructive decisions and other things than most of the schools around, and then this happened right in our community,” Lucia said.
“We all need each other, and everyone’s going through a harder time than we realize,” Lucia said. “People need more love and less judgment, and wear your seat belt.”