A local family devastated by a fatal wreck on the way to a church retreat Tuesday has received a massive outpouring in the wake of the tragedy. Hundreds have offered prayers and well-wishes and two GoFundMe pages were quickly established, already raising thousands of dollars to help the beloved Joiner family who lost their 10-year-old daughter.
N.C. Highway Patrol officials said a 2000 Ford Explorer driven by David Joiner, 36, of Clinton, and occupied by four children was traveling west on Interstate 40, near Garner, when the SUV careened off the roadway and overturned several times. The single-vehicle wreck killed David’s daughter Gloria Joiner, 10, a front seat passenger, and injured the four others, including David and his son, Jonathan. Two other children reportedly sustained minor injuries.
Troopers were dispatched to the collision near the 306 mile marker at 12:38 p.m. Tuesday. I-40 West was completely shut down following the collision, reopening shortly before 2 p.m.
The New Life Baptist Church youth group was on their way to a retreat at the Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte when the wreck occurred, church members said. According to the patrol, a rear tire blew out, causing Joiner to lose control.
“The initial investigation discovered a separation of the tire tread on the back right tire caused the driver to lose control,” Sgt. Christopher D. Knox, public information officer for the N.C. State Highway Patrol, said in a prepared statement. “The vehicle overturned several times, and all occupants were injured.”
Rescue transported Joiner and the children to WakeMed, where Gloria was pronounced dead. The four others were treated at WakeMed on Tuesday. David was reportedly still at the hospital on Wednesday, having sustained broken ribs along with other injuries. His son Jonathan suffered a broken arm.
David Joiner is a teacher at New Life Christian Academy in Clinton, where Gloria attended school. She was the oldest of David and Jessica Joiner’s six children. David also serves as secretary of the Sampson County GOP Executive Committee and the N.C. 7th Congressional District, along with being the vice-chairman of the Sampson County Young Republicans.
News of the fateful church trip trickled back to Sampson County later Tuesday and members of the Sampson County Republican Party, which just happened to have a meeting Tuesday night, were shocked at the news. They immediately began to take up a collection, gathering $1,500 just from contributions at the meeting.
“It’s just tragic all the way around,” said Marcus Smith, a lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Office who is involved with the local GOP. “They’re such good people and probably the most humble people I know. It’s just devastating.”
Clinton City Councilman Daniel Ruggles, former chairman of the local Republican Party and local GOP stalwart, expressed similar sentiments.
“It’s a rough situation, just awful. If there’s anything good, it’s that there’s been a ton of outpouring from the community,” said Ruggles, who set up one of the two Go Fund Me pages established in the local community to help the family. “We didn’t want them to worry about anything financial. They have enough to worry about with the loss of their eldest daughter.”
Another page, set up by New Life Baptist Church, “will help offset the cost of the funeral and medical expenses for the four others in the vehicle,” the description states. It can be found at gofundme.com/the-joiner-family. There was nearly $5,000 raised through that page by Wednesday afternoon.
The GoFundMe page set up by Daniel and Lillian Ruggles can be found at gofundme.com/love-offering-for-the-joiners. Close to $3,000 had already been raised through the page as of Wednesday afternoon. Ruggles said 100 percent of that money will go to the Joiners to use for medical expenses, funeral costs, vehicle replacement — whatever the greatest need is.
“Either of them is better than neither of them,” said Ruggles, referring to the fundraising pages. He noted that the church’s page saw a $1,000 donation given by N.C. Lieutenant Gov. Dan Forest and his wife, Alice. Joiner’s reach expands across the state, and many were saddened by the loss their friend and colleague is experiencing.
“He is really involved in the Republican Party, has a solid reputation throughout the party. He’s very well-liked across the state,” said Ruggles. “When it comes to politics, he may disagree with you, but he’ll always be a good friend and solid guy. We just hate this for him.”
As the father of a 3-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy, Ruggles said he is gutted for his colleague and knows his faith, along with the support of a community who loves the Joiners, will help him a great deal when he needs it most.
“I can’t imagine what he’s going through,” said Ruggles. “I know the Joiners will be finding comfort in their church and in their faith in their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I hope he can work through it while knowing he’s got support.”
Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.