Head-on drag racing crash kills NC boy weeks before 7th birthday, NCSHP says

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Sunday, July 4, 2021
Head-on drag racing crash kills NC boy, NCSHP says
A mother's world changed when she received a phone call that her only child and his father were struck head-on last Saturday.

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A 6-year-old boy was killed and his father was severely injured after a driver racing on a North Carolina highway hit their vehicle head-on last Saturday, state troopers said.

"I just cried out for my baby -- I wanted my baby," Brandy Birriteier told ABC-affiliate WSOC.

Birrititier's world changed when she received a phone call that her only child, Liam, and his father, Santiago Lunas were involved in a crash on Highway 74. When she arrived at the hospital, she learned that six-year-old Liam had died.

"And when I went to see him he was just laying perfectly on the table like an angel, his face was perfect," Birritier said with tears in her eyes.

Lunas suffered severe injuries but returned home from the hospital -- he remains in a lot of pain and still cannot stand on his own feet.

"We never made it home," Lunas said he and his son were traveling home from dropping off his other two children.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol said two cars, an Audi and a Charger, were racing on Highway 74 near Kings Mountain -- each car going almost 100 mph. That's when the Audi lost control, crossed the median and hit Lunas' vehicle head-on.

"I just saw a light and that's all I saw the whole time... everything happened so quick," Lunas said.

As of Friday, no one has been charged in the wreck, and Liam's parents want justice.

"Before they start racing or speeding, they should think about others," Lunas said. "There's a lot of people out there on the road traveling with their families, with kids inside the car -- now our baby isn't here."

Liam is remembered as a ball of energy that loved taekwondo, soccer and swimming. His mother said Liam always asked her to help the homeless.

He also was excited about an upcoming trip to the beach for his birthday, he would have turned seven on July 14. Instead, the family is now planning a funeral.

"He's my only child. Waking up is hard. Not kissing him goodnight. Everything is different and everything can change in one second," Birrittier said.

Officials said the driver of the Audi was taken to a Charlotte hospital and is listed in critical condition.

Authorities have not announced what charges the driver will face but charges are pending. The driver of the Dodge accused of racing stayed on the scene and spoke with investigators.