Mothers remember sons killed in deadly drag race crash


ROANE COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Two mothers are sharing their grief after a Wartburg teen was indicted on several charges connected to a drag race crash that ended with their sons losing their lives.

A Roane County grand jury handed down indictments against 19-year-old Holden Melton this week. Charges include vehicular homicide by drag racing and vehicular homicide by reckless driving for what happened on Orchard Valley Drive in Harriman last May.

The two teens killed in that crash: 18-year-old Austin French and 16-year-old Joshua Freels. Both were riding in the car Melton was driving.

WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel spoke with the two teen victims’ moms, still struggling to cope with their loss.

“It’s really hard. I have a hard time sleeping,” said mothers Kristi Freels and Lyndse Fisher. “I cry all the time, every day.”

The two moms share a pain, with both losing their sons Austin and Joshua in the May 2019 car crash.

“I actually came up on the scene. I had to see everything that a mother should never have to see,” said Fisher.

Almost nine months later, Kristi Freels and Lyndse Fisher are both continuing to honor their sons’ memories, wearing heart-shaped necklaces and decorating Austin and Joshua’s graves for every holiday.

“He always had a smile on his face. You never could bring that boy down,” said Freels.

The pair is reflecting on what made their teens special.

“You couldn’t ask for a better boy. He would take his shirt off of his back if he had to,” said Fisher.

The moms say their two young men were like brothers. Both loved spending time with their family and fishing together, and now their two moms are leaning on each other to help get through.

“Just hold your kids tightly, and love them every day, don’t take them for granted. Treat every day like it’s your last because you never know when your babies are going to be taken from you,” they both said.

Austin’s mom told us after his death, his organs helped nearly 190 people.

Meanwhile, Holden Melton is due in court on February 24th for his arraignment.


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