DAYTON, Texas – Folks in the town of Dayton celebrated the life of a man who died in a bizarre car accident. Investigators say the other driver was just 13 years old.
Friends of the victim tell KHOU 11 News the other driver’s young age makes this even more tragic, all around. But they are trying to follow their friend’s wishes, to send him off not with tears, but with a smile.
Saturday night at Billy Mac and Stacey’s, friends were playing pool and dancing, getting ready for karaoke. But the main act was missing.
“He’s one of these people that makes everybody happy. You’ve never seen anything like it,” said friend Mike Piper.
Sixty-eight-year-old George Franklin Bennett, just “Frank” to his friends, was killed in a car accident Thursday, just down the road. The driver who hit him was only 13 years old.
“I was disturbed by that,” said Bennett’s friend Bobby Quick.
It happened on Highway 321. Witnesses said the 13-year-old driver was pulling out of the family business when she plowed into Bennett’s truck. There are still clear tire tracks, where Bennett’s truck rolled in the ditch.
“We stayed with him,” said another friend Stacey McKeand.
Never alone, Bennett’s friends came running down to help, but he was pinned inside.
“I told him it was me and that we had help coming and just to hold on. He said, ‘OK,’” said McKeand.
But he couldn’t last long enough. Bennett died before the ambulance got there. Witnesses said the 13-year-old slowed down, but then kept driving. She eventually came back, but it’s hard for friends to understand why she was behind the wheel.
“Especially around a busy highway, it’s very dangerous,” said Quick.
Still, McKeand said, “He would not want hard feelings from us toward that little girl, because he was just that way.”
Bennett was also this way: “If something ever happened to him, he didn’t want us to sit around and cry,” said McKeand.
Instead, he gave the bar $100 and told them to throw one more party on him.
“That’s Frank, you know what, just have fun,” said Piper. “I’m gone and just have fun with that.”
So that’s what his friends will do, with one last piece of Bennett to help. They found his glasses in the ditch, and they’re now sitting on a shelf in the bar, where they can still watch over the people Bennett loved.
“I’m gonna miss the hell out of him,” said Piper.
The 13-year-old driver’s family did not want to talk to KHOU 11 News Saturday. There’s no word yet on whether she will face any charges.