A Matthews man involved in a fatal wreck last week faced new felony charges Saturday while friends of the mother and daughter who died in the crash continued to rally around the family left behind.
Police arrested Justin Wayne Jones, 28, Saturday on charges of death by vehicle and two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Jones had already been charged with driving while impaired and reckless driving after the Wednesday wreck on Matthews Township Parkway.
Charlotte resident Marie Crook, 62, was driving the Honda CRV that collided with Jones Chevrolet Trailblazer near the entrance to the Matthews Festival Shopping Center. Crook and her daughter, 37-year-old Jennifer Hunt of Matthews, died. Hunts two young daughters, ages 9 and 5, escaped with minor injuries.
Records show that Jones was charged with DWI in 2010 in Union County, but the case was dismissed without leave the following year after an officer was unavailable to appear in court.
As family members make funeral arrangements, friends of Hunt and Crook are trying to ensure that Hunts children will be cared for.
Hunt was a single mother who friends say worked hard to provide for her three children. She has a 17-year-old son who was not in the car at the time of the wreck, said Todd Hahn, pastor of Next Level Church in Matthews, where Hunt both worshipped and worked.
She loved her kids thoroughly and equally, Hahn said. The thing that everyone remarks upon when it comes to Jennifer was the overflowing love she had for her kids.
In the aftermath of the crash, the church set up a Hunt Family Fund for donations to help.
In the meantime, family members are trying to figure out where the kids will go, said Kim Hollandsworth, a longtime friend of Crooks who has volunteered to raise one of the girls and set up a trust fund for the children.
The horse woman
Hollandsworth remembers Crook as woman whose passion for horses was rivaled only by her love of children.
Crook taught horseback riding and trained horses at her grandfathers stable on Nations Ford Road in Charlotte. Hollandsworth, 47, began taking lessons from Crook when she was 4 years old and grew up under Crooks watchful eye.
I looked up to Marie as a big sister, Hollandsworth said. She taught so many girls and boys in Charlotte how to ride horses, just instilled a love of nature and animals in everyone that she came across.
On many occasions, parents would drop off their children at the stable and not return to pick them up until the end of the day. Crook enjoyed taking care of the kids in her charge and was happy to teach and play with them.
She would do anything for those kids, Hollandsworth said. She just would have done anything for any kid.
She smiled often, her former riding pupil remembers, and had the personality that was bigger than life.
The hard worker
Crook passed her warm nature on to her daughter, friends said. Hunt is also remembered for her contagious smile and kindness.
Despite working long hours at a lengthy succession of jobs, Hunt was always cheerful, always willing to listen to someone elses problems, her pastor said.
She had recently started working part time doing house-cleaning at the church, Hahn said. She volunteered in the office on Mondays; she would always greet you with this absolutely huge smile.
She was the kind of person who would drop whatever she was doing to help others, he said.
When Next Level churchgoers searched for fellow member Kayla Campbell, a Mint Hill teen who was missing for several days this month before her body was found in a pond, Hunt spent days in the cold helping to look.
She struggled financially, mightily at times, Hahn said. But even if she couldnt give money, shed give her time and energy.
Hunts kind spirit in spite of her circumstances inspired the church to help her family during Christmas last year. They surprised her by buying presents for her children and made a video to document the experience.
The video, posted on the churchs Facebook page, shows a grinning woman overjoyed that her kids would have presents under the tree.
We have a Christmas tree up and theres absolutely nothing under it. But its so pretty because theres ornaments that the kids have made throughout the year it really gets you in the spirit, Hunt says on the video. But to know that its going to be filled with gifts for my kids who I love so much.
Hunt begins to cry.
It means a lot I cant wait to see their faces.