News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, May 27, 2013
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- On this beautiful Monday afternoon, the Hammonds family comes together to barbecue like they do on most other holidays. But today, they're one person short.
"When the coroner came, he held up [Ricky's] ID and he asked me, 'Is this your son?' and I said yes," said Tamara Salley.
That's when Salley learned her oldest son, 19-year-old Ricky Hammonds, died in a car crash early Saturday morning.
"He was more than just my son," she said. "He was my best friend."
After losing one of their own, the family decided to still get together on this Memorial Day to support each other and to remember Ricky.
"He was a funny person to hang with. He's a sharing and loving person," said Ricky's sister, Tameia Hammonds.
"[He was] very outgoing, always had a smile on his face, caring -- anything somebody needed, if he got it, he'd give it to you," said Ricky's friend, Antonio Johnson.
The accident that cost Ricky his life happened on Coleman Bridge Road near Ott Dale Drive in Aiken.
He was sitting in the back seat when the car left the road and hit several trees.
He wasn't wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the car.
"I'm always on them with the seat belt," explained Salley, who said she's surprised he wasn't buckled up. "They know they can't ride unless they put one on."
The driver and passenger were both wearing seat belts and survived.
As far as the cause of the accident, the driver told authorities he thought it may have been caused by a tire blowout.
"He was more of a family person to me, the driver," Salley explained. "He didn't want to intentionally hurt my child. It was an accident, and I know that."
Now, this tight-knit family is just working to stay strong in the face of an unexpected tragedy.
"He would've been here playing around, being goofy like he always was," said Ricky's friend, Jaquan Harrison.
"I've been holding on because the Lord has me," Salley said. "And I know I'm a well-loved person like my son was."
The family tells News 12 they believe Ricky had just traded seats with someone else in the car and that may be the reason he wasn't buckled up when the car left the road.
Funeral arrangements are yet not complete.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol says this type of accident is exactly what they're trying to cut down on with their "Buckle up South Carolina" program.