A happy Indiana family’s life took an unexpected turn when an SUV suddenly hit their 13-year-old boy. The ambitious teenager wanted to become an engineer, but fate had other plans.
Friends and family of the Bennetts knew them as a loving couple with five beautiful children. Ronald Lane Bennett Jr. and Chantel Marie Bennett were often seen spending time with their children and loved sharing family photos on Facebook.
In search of a better life for their children, the couple moved to Angola, Indiana, from Fort Wayne. Little did they know that a tragedy would leave them devastated three months later.
Ronald and Chantel’s 13-year-old son, Wayden Lane Bennett, was a bright eighth-grader at Angola Middle School. He dreamed of becoming an engineer and knew exactly how to make his way into college.
Since the teenager was an exceptional footballer and was part of Angola’s official team, he knew his extra-curricular activity would help him get into his desired engineering college. Wayden also loved playing baseball and basketball and never missed a chance to ride his bike.
Wayden was a big fan of Big Mike’s bike nights in Indiana. Like other children, he also enjoyed playing video games and had a knack for drawing. His parents were proud of his skills and achievements but had no idea that their son would soon breathe his last.
It was a regular day for the Bennett family when Wayden left his house with his best friend, Ryly Cumings, on October 1, 2022. The boys were headed to Cumings’ house when the unthinkable happened.
She had never imagined living without her son but felt helpless when the doctors told her there was nothing more they could do.
The teenagers were probably planning to spend a good time together while walking on the side of the road in front of Mulligan’s Restaurant & Pub. Suddenly, an SUV hit the boys from behind and sped off.
Between Life and Death
Soon, the boys were rushed to the hospital. The collision left Wayden critically injured, while his friend’s injuries were not fatal. When Ronald and Chantel discovered what had happened to their son, they were heartbroken.
The doctors ran multiple tests and treated Wayden for his injuries, but the results weren’t pleasing. As time passed, the doctors prepared Ronald and Chantel for the worst. Chantel expressed her feelings in a Facebook post:
“Please, Wayden! Please wake up, and prove every doctor and test wrong. I’m begging you, Wayden!”
Chantel wasn’t ready to let her little boy go. She had never imagined living without her son but felt helpless when the doctors told her there was nothing more they could do.
On October 3, at 10:09 a.m., Wayden breathed his last. His parents and siblings were devastated because no one had thought of losing him at such a tender age. However, his family decided he would save other people’s lives by donating his organs.
“He is living on in others. Wayden is a hero!” Jillian Schroeder, a family friend of the Bennetts, said after all of Wayden’s major organs were donated by the night of October 4.
Schroeder set up a GoFundMe page to help the Bennetts pay the medical bills and make the funeral arrangements. Through the fundraiser, the family aimed to collect $20,000. As of October 7, people have donated more than $17,000.
Meanwhile, Mike Ackels, who hosted Wayden’s favorite bike nights, honored him by announcing a fundraiser event for the Bennetts on October 8. Before the incident, Ackels was all set to celebrate 25 years of his cycle shop on the same day.
“If he liked bike night, then he needs to be on that memorial
,” Ackels said while referring to the memorial that honored late motorcyclists. The business owner was moved after learning about Wayden’s love for bikes.
After the SUV driver hit Wayden and his friend, the police searched for the driver and eventually found her. Per the authorities, a 45-year-old Ohio woman named Hope Ann Richmond was charged with leaving the accident scene after causing death and injury.
Meanwhile, Chantel and Ronald prepared for their baby’s funeral ― something they had never imagined doing. Chantel kept writing heart-wrenching Facebook posts to express her feelings. She said:
“I’m trying so hard to be strong for your brother and sisters, but inside I just want to lay down with your horsey and stinky jersey and close my eyes.”
Remembering the Teenager
The devastated mother also asked her friends on Facebook to help her find funeral dresses for herself and her daughters. She also posted a link to her baby’s obituary and revealed that the funeral was open to the public. She said:
“As I get ready to head to the funeral home, my chest feels so heavy.”
To keep little Wayden’s memories alive, his family invited people to join them on October 22 at an event named “Wayden’s Ride,” where they planned to host a silent auction beside riding bikes.
With each passing day, Chantel misses her son even more. She keeps writing heartbreaking posts on her Facebook profile, trying her best to be strong for her other children.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Wayden’s family and friends as they mourn his death. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Bennett family and pray that Wayden’s soul rests in peace.
Click here to read another gut-wrenching story about two Ohio brothers who lost their lives in a crash, leaving their mother devastated.