North Lincoln student killed in accident loved horses

by Frank DeLoache and Tori Hamby

North Lincoln High School junior and horse lover Haley Shay Campbell wanted to volunteer at Kids Rein, a therapeutic horseback-riding program for disabled children with her mother.

But on the way home from school on May 5, Haley died in three-car accident at N.C. 150 and Henry Dellinger Road. Now Haley’s parents, Ted and Connie Campbell, are fulfilling Haley’s wish to help the riding program by dedicating all memorials in Haley’s name to Kids Rein.

Even as they mourn their loss, Haley’s friends, family and classmates already have contributed more than $700, enough to provide two children with eight-weeks worth of horseback riding lessons at Latta Equestrian Center, where Kids Rein is based.

Haley’s parents want to see that memorial grow “quite a big more,” Ted Campbell said Wednesday, May 11, because that would have made Haley happy.

Haley started riding horses “almost since she could walk,” her father said. “It was really her passion,” and her horse, Sausalito, was “the love of her life.”

Her parents bought the horse for her in July 2010, when they moved to Denver from Vancouver, Canada. Haley and her mother rode horses every afternoon at Blake-Cliff Stables, where they boarded Sausalito, and Ted Campbell joined them when he could.

Even though the Campbells arrived here less than a year ago, the community has embraced them as their own. Starting with N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Steven Parker, who was called to the scene of the accident around 2:30 p.m. last Thursday.

“He was here the first day, and he’s been to the house numerous times since then,” Ted Campbell said. “We asked him to give a eulogy at Haley’s funeral. He’s a man of God and the Highway Patrol. He felt the loss. He has daughters of his own at north Lincoln High School.”

Haley and two other friends – Keirol Nathanal Velaquez, of Salem Church Road in Lincolnton, and Donterious Thompson, of Beth Haven Church Road in Denver – were passengers in a Honda Civic, driven by Travis Cannon, of Windy Pine Circle in Denver. According to a Highway Patrol report, as Cannon drove east on N.C. 150, he didn’t slow down as he approached slow-moving traffic at Henry Dellinger Road.

The report estimated the Honda’s was traveling 50 mph when it struck the left rear corner of a 2002 Ford sport utility vehicle driven by Adam Taylor Ramsey, 18, of Mariner Lane in Denver. The force of the collision threw the Honda into the westbound lane of N.C. 150, and a Chevrolet pickup driven by Dennis Lee Smith, 28, of Hendersonville, struck Haley’s side of the Honda.

The conditions of other people involved in the wreck were not immediately available.

The Highway Patrol has charged Cannon, a sophomore at North Lincoln, with misdemeanor death by vehicle, and Ted Campbell said he’s heard the teen “is having a rough time.”

Campbell praised the paramedics and firefighters who tried to help his daughter at the accident scene. “They were really fantastic, and we can’t say enough about the general outreach for the community,” he said. “The outpouring of help and support has just been overwhelming,” from everyone who lives on their street to “anonymous people who have contacted us and wanted to help.”

The Campbells had not settled on a church yet, but his neighbor is a member of Denver United Methodist Church. The Rev. Jeff Johnsen, pastor of the church, reached out to the family. “I can’t say enough about Denver United Methodist and Pastor Johnsen. We were still looking for a church, but I guess we’ve found one now.”

On Friday, May 13, the Campbells travel to Virginia to bury their daughter. Then, they’ll start to pick up the pieces and move forward. Connie Campbell loves Sausalito, her daughter’s horse, and she may fulfill her daughter’s wish by volunteering at Kids Rein, which uses horse riding lessons to help mentally and physically handicapped children to hone their motor and social skills.

Kid’s Reign co-founder and riding instructor Teressa Tucker was watching the news when she saw a report about the wreck that took Haley’s life. Tucker’s thoughts turned immediately to her own teenage daughter, Taylor.

“As a parent, I just can’t imagine. My heart just bleeds for her parents,” Tucker said Thursday, May 12.

A day later, Connie Campbell called Tucker to ask if she could donate money from Haley’s memorial fund to the program.

“It’s a terrible, terrible, terrible situation,” Tucker said. “But hopefully something good can come out of something so horrific. I think Haley would have liked that.”