A man from Maryland was charged with DUI after a two-car wreck killed a 21-year-old man in Virginia on New Year’s Day. The victim was identified as Thomas C. Estep, a country musician from Norton, Virginia.

According to the police, the crash occurred at the early hours of New Year’s Day in Russell County. The Virginia State Police Wytheville Division Crash Reconstruction Team went to the scene to assist with the crash investigations which haven’t finished, as it was informed by the police spokesperson Corinne Geller. It was also announced that Estep died at the scene.

Police lights.
Shot of blurred police lights. Image credit: Shutter Stock.

“My heart is broken,” up-and-coming country singer, Kaitlyn Baker, said in a written statement. “Last night, my guitar player, my best friend — was killed in a car wreck. He texted me and let me know how excited he was for 2017 and wished me happy New Year. Tom was one of the best people I’ve ever known.”

The driver was charged with DUI and aggravated involuntary manslaughter

According to the police statement, the accident occurred at 2:30 am on Route 19 less than a mile south route 58. The other driver was identified as Dale M. Donnell, a 41-year-old man from Berwyn Heights, Maryland. Allegedly, Donnell was driving a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. Apparently, he struck Estep’s 2007 Pontiac G5 head-0n. Estep died at the scene.

Police stated that Donnels was driving drunk and now he is facing charges for DUI and aggravated involuntary manslaughter. He was treated at the Russell County Medical Center for minor injuries. He was soon released from the hospital, and now he is with the state police. Investigations of the accident are ongoing. Police say Route 19 was cleared by 7:45 a.m. Sunday.

Estep was an emerging country artist

Estep was described by his friends as a selfless gentleman. His best friend Kaitlyn Baker –who was the singer of Estep’s country band – said he was one of the best persons she has ever known. He would give money to the people in need, and he was always encouraging people to follow their dreams. He was very positive about life. The Huffington Post’s list of Top 10 Country Artists to Watch in 2017 included Baker’s band.

Brenda Lee was one of Thomas’ teachers. She said that tough she hadn’t seen him for many years –since Thomas and her mother moved from Wise, Virginia– she remembered him as a sweet, shy boy.  They resumed contact a few years ago. She also said that Thomas and her son, Aaron, started playing guitars together. According to Brenda, they had a connection, so his son would really be sorry about Thomas passing away.

Other friends wrote their memories on Thomas’ Facebook page after hearing the terrible news.

“Thomas was in my Sunday School class when he was in pre-school at Wise Baptist Church,” Lee said. “He was a sweet little boy, not rambunctious at all and a little shy.”

Source: College Park Patch