• Troopers: Teen who hit mother of 3 fell asleep behind wheel

    By: Ken Lemon


    GASTON CO. - A woman was killed in a head-on collision Saturday night.

    State troopers said the victim, Donna Garrett, was driving home with her three daughters on South Point Road in Gaston County.

    Gregory Suggs Jr., 17, fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the center line, officials said. He hit Garrett’s car head-on.
    “We believe that fatigue is what caused the crash as of right now,” said Brian Huffstickler with the North Carolina Highway Patrol. “The young man stated he nodded off just prior to the crash.”
    Officials said Suggs only had his license about a year.

    Officials said Wednesday the 17-year-old driver was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

     His father said he didn't know he was asleep at the wheel until after he had crashed.
    “We would like to convey our condolences to the family in the other vehicle and let them know they are in our thoughts and prayers,” Gregory Suggs Sr. said.
    Garrett, 32, died on the scene. The mother and her daughters were less than a mile from their home.

    Suggs Sr. said his son was at the hospital when troopers told him that Garrett died.
    “It's very important to let them know how, how heavy this weighs,” Gregory Suggs Sr. said.
    Two of Garrett's daughters, ages 12 and 2, were transported to CaroMont Regional Medical Center where they were treated and released.

    The 9-year-old daughter was airlifted to Levine Children’s Hospital. She is in critical but stable condition.

    “She was in better shape today talking, breathing on her own. The father was pleased with how she’s coming around. She’s doing a lot better today,” said family friend Gregory Wylie.

    Garrett leaves behind a fiancé, Michael Shytle, who is the father of two of the children.

    He told Channel 9, "She was the most wonderful woman and mother I have ever met in my life. She was my backbone and I'm lost without her but I'm going to be strong for these kids because that's what she would want."

    Troopers said they will meet with the district attorney on Wednesday to determine what charges will be filed. They will also check his phone to see if he was texting or talking at the time of the crash.
    The loss is agonizing for Garrett's fiancé.
    She and her three daughters were headed home from the store with groceries for Easter dinner.
    Shytle said it hurts their 2-year-old daughter who survived the crash with bruises.
    Shytle's 12-year-old daughter is also home recovering.
    Garrett's 9-year-old daughter, Allison, is in critical condition, but expected to recover.
    “She is making it.  She is a fighter,” Shytle said.
    Family members haven't told her that her mother died.
    They don't believe she can handle that right now.
    Shytle just wants others drivers to think
    “If you are too tired do not drive,” he said.


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