Family speaks out against illegal street races after teenage son killed in Waynesboro

By: Carter Coyle Email
By: Carter Coyle Email
Illegal street county

An illegal street racing accident killed two bystanders in Burke County Saturday night. (WRDW-TV / Nov. 28, 2011)

News 12 First at Five / Monday, Nov. 28, 2011

WAYNESBORO, Ga. -- It was along Seven Oaks Road, only a half mile from his home, where 15-year-old Keshon Burdette was hit and killed during an illegal drag race over the weekend.

Investigators say the drivers slammed on their brakes and lost control.

"I just dropped what I was doing and came out here to the scene," Keshon's Aunt Tonya Burdette explained. "When I got there, I saw his body just laying there in the ditch. I just stood there looking at him. I couldn't believe it was him."

Kelvin Johnson, 27, was also killed in the accident.

Troopers say they found one driver, Michael Mathis, at the hospital with injuries. He will be charged with manslaughter and hit-and-run. Investigators are asking the community to speak out about who the second driver is.

Keshon's mother, Anquinta Burdette, is eight and a half months pregnant and had just finished cooking dinner when one of her younger sons ran into the house, telling her about the accident.

Anquinta had to be hospitalized after running barefoot to her son on the side of the road Sunday night.

"The pain hurts. I know he's in a better place," she said. "But I just wish they would stop all this racing. Especially because there's just too many young kids around here for this."

She says her sons were playing football in the yard when they heard the cars and ran off to join the crowd. She never dreamed it would become a deadly race.

"He was a good kid -- he was funny," Tonya said. "He liked chasing his brothers, he liked making jokes. His nickname was 'Polo' because he loved wearing Ralph Lauren."

Troopers say the race started near Thomson Bridge Road.

Rufus Burdette, Keshon's uncle, says the races should not be glorified.

"Any time you take a vehicle like that -- a machine like that -- and put it in a residential area, it's only a matter of time," he warned. "Take it somewhere else. To the race track. 'Cause that's where it should be at anyway."

Anquinta says Keshon's younger brothers, 13 and 8 years old, witnessed the accident.

"They say they don't want to sleep in the house or stay in the house anymore because they're scared," Anquinta said.

She says now they refuse to even go in their older brother's room.

Neighbors say Seven Oaks Road has been a popular spot for for illegal racing for years.

"The police can't really catch them because they have what they call 'runners.' And whenever the police start coming, they just use their cellphone and alert everyone. That gives them sometimes 15, 20 minutes to get cleared out."

Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey says they get calls about illegal drag races every weekend. He says it's very difficult to catch the racers in the act, but they take the situations very seriously.

"I wish this would be a wake-up call to everyone," Keshon's mother pleaded.

Her sons' toy race cars in the lawn serve as tragic reminders of the deadly accident and just how dangerous street racing can be.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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