After a 6-month-old baby became the sole survivor of a car crash on Waldo Road, hundreds have raised more than $38,000 in two days in support.
On Nov. 16, Christopher Hesling, 30, his wife Brittany Trowell Hesling, 31, and their two children collided head-on with a 2007 Toyota RAV4 while driving east on Waldo Road, or State Road 24. Authorities have not yet identified the Toyota driver, who also died in the crash, because of severe fire damage to the body.
The Heslings and their 4-year-old son Jack died as a result of the crash and are survived by their 6-month-old daughter Maggie, according to the GoFundMe page.
Jack’s kidneys were able to be donated and Maggie is being cared for by family, said Emily Burnside, a life-long friend of Brittany and one of the fundraiser organizers.
The family was driving home to St. Marys, Georgia after celebrating Brittany Trowell Hesling’s birthday at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium when the accident occurred, she said.
“All the money is going to be in a trust for Maggie so that whoever has guardianship of her and raises her can make sure that she has a great life,” Burnside, 31, said.
Jenna Campbell, who worked with Chris Hesling for three years at a family waterpark and aquatic center in Statesboro, Georgia, helped Burnside organize the GoFundMe. She said the initial $5,000 goal was met within an hour.
The donations, which are continually growing, surpassed the following $10,000, $25,000 and $30,000 goals, Campbell, 32, said. The current goal is set at $50,000, the fund has over 600 donors, and the page has been shared over 10,000 times as of Thursday night.
“It immediately took off,” Campbell said. “I feel like a lot of people are feeling the need to give because they knew them personally.”
When Chris and Brittany married in 2012, it was the first wedding Campbell and her current fiance attended together. She said Chris was “always full of laughs” and Brittany was “that light in the room.”
“They always, both of them, just had this sense of compassion about the people that they were around.”
Burnside and Brittany Trowell Hesling were born one day apart and grew up together as best friends. Burnside said Brittany and Chris Hesling were high school sweethearts, who generously gave to others without asking for anything in return.
“All of our worlds are just shattered, but we have one little glimmer of hope left,” Burnside said. “We have a little piece of Brittany and a little piece of Chris, and that’s Maggie. She’s perfect in every way.”
The Hesling family.