Mom mourns son killed in Rocky Mount street racing; suspect pleads guilty

Local News

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WNCN) — A Rocky Mount mother is working to end street racing after her son’s death. 

This week, William Winstead pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the September 2018 crash that killed 10-year-old Durrell Coley.   

Every night, Maria Avila visits the spot where her son died. She turns on the lights and arranges the mementos on his memorial. 

“Every day I wake up knowing that I don’t have a son anymore. My baby’s gone,” she said.  

Her home is filled with pictures of  Durrell, his running shoes, his school projects, her favorite photograph — nearly life-sized — taken on his first day of 5th grade just a week before he died.

“Durrell went with his stepfather, William, to a Labor Day party,” explained Avila. “They called saying they were on the way back to the house.” They never made it.  

According to court documents William Winstead, Maria’s boyfriend at the time,  was speeding with Durrell unbuckled in the front seat when they crashed.  

Durrell was thrown from car.  Winstead was charged with involuntary manslaughter and speed competition.

Maria says she never realized drivers race so close to her home in Rocky Mount. 

“I’ve never seen a street race. I didn’t know it was anything they did outside of the movies,” Avila said.

Since Durrell’s death, she’s made it her mission to stop street racing. She’s working with police, highway patrol, and lawmakers and urging parents to do all they can to keep their children safe.

“I want to have street racing looked at as a crime. It shouldn’t be a traffic infraction or something looked at like a traffic infraction,” she said. 

She also has a message for parents: “If you don’t buckle  your children, please buckle them.” 

She can’t buckle Durrell’s seat belt, but she’ll try to prevent others from feeling her pain.  In the morning she’ll go back to the spot where her son died, just like she does every morning.  She’ll turn off the lights at his memorial, and be as close to her little boy as she can.

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