Christmas day accident kills 2 teens, family finds forgiveness

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

MARICOPA -- The man behind the wheel of a rollover crash that claimed the lives of two teens on Christmas Day could soon face charges.

It happened just outside Maricopa, near Papago and Pecan Woods.

A Pinal County Sheriff's Office spokesman said William Gay, 23, was speeding down a farm road, lost control at the intersection, crossed over, and the truck rolled.

Gay and his passengers, 15-year-old Josiah Abbott and 14-year-old Morgan Martin, were ejected.

The sheriff’s office said they were not wearing seat belts.

"They just went right across Papago Road, and the front end of the truck hit a ditch and just flipped, tail over head,” said Shell Abbott, Josiah’s sister.

“That vehicle was totaled; it was crushed,” said Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

The two teens died at the scene.

"I know it wasn't a good sight," said Abbott. "I ended up coming up across the accident because I was out driving around trying to find them."

This is not the first time tragedy has struck the Abbott family.

"I can't believe this is happening. I'm sure everybody feels the same way, but seven years before, we had just lost a different brother and I was like, 'This can't happen twice,' like it just doesn't happen twice," said Abbott.

She is talking about the loss of her other younger brother, Corbin Abbott. He drowned back in 2007 when he was about 18 months old.

Shell Abbott said she is now drawing on lessons already learned.

"This being the second time around, you know, losing my second brother, I know all the changes that God did in me the first time, and I saw my family come together in Christ and I know that He has a plan," said Shell Abbott.

Gay, the driver, was a family friend. Shell Abbott said they call him “Bubba.”

"They were driving up over to my house,” said Abbott. “They were dropping Morgan off to her house, and then Bubba and Josiah were going to stay at my house.”

Abbott family members said they forgive Gay.

“We were able to hug and cry and let him know even though what he did wasn't right, he didn't mean to. We're still here for him,” said Abbott.

Gay was seriously injured, and Abbott said he is now healing both physically and emotionally.

"I know your first feeling when something like this happens is to curl up in the darkest corner you can find, but we're just not going to let him do that,” said Abbott. “We're going to embrace him with as much love as we can."

The sheriff's office said they are still investigating the crash, but Gay could face negligent homicide or manslaughter charges.

Josiah Abbott's funeral will be Friday, January 2 at Tempe Church of Christ on 2424 S. Mill Ave.

Services will be held at noon.

Graveside ceremony will be at 3:30 at Phoenix Memorial Park and mortuary.


2 teens killed in Christmas Day rollover in Maricopa

MARICOPA, Ariz. -- Two teenagers were killed and a Phoenix man was badly injured when the pickup truck in which they were riding rolled Christmas night just outside Maricopa.

A Pinal County Sheriff's Office spokesman said William Gay, 23, was driving the 2001 Dodge pickup on a dirt road on farm land at a high rate of speed about 9:45 p.m. when he lost control. The truck hit a curb and rolled one time, the spokesman said.

Gay, Josiah Abbott, 15, and Morgan Martin, 14, both of Maricopa, were ejected, the spokesman said.

Gay was taken to Chandler Regional Medical Center in serious condition. The teens died at the scene, the spokesman said.

None was wearing a seat belt, the spokesman said. Charges were pending the outcome of the investigation.