Father, martial artist killed in Knightdale wreck honored with posthumous 'blue belt' by jiu-jitsu community

KNIGHTDALE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The community is rallying behind the family of Joe Murphy, who died in a wreck in Knightdale on Saturday.

A gofundme page has raised more than $11,000 and Team Raines Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, where he trained nightly, had a vigil in his honor Monday night, where they promoted him to a blue belt.

"Joe would want us back out here training today and that's what we came to do for lunch," said Eric Gillett of Team Raines Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. "He's always going to be in my heart and top of mind."

Joe's family attended the vigil Monday evening.

"To be out here I will say, it sucks because this is where it happened it's traumatic for her," Joe's wife, Jillian Murphy said about her and her daughter. "It's traumatic for us but it makes it a little easier having our loved ones here, everybody who loved him."

His teammates remembered him fondly.

"He always had something positive to say about you, always was an uplifting type person," said Jerry Reid, who trains at Team Raines.

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The community is rallying behind the family of Joe Murhpy, who died in a wreck in Knightdale Saturday.

"During times like this, you see this many people and you see how loved you are and see how loved your spouse was, it just means everything to me," Jillian Murphy said.

The crash happened in front of Cathy Lee Child Development Center on Bethlehem Road on Saturday morning. Debbie Lee, who directs the center, lives nearby.

"I heard what sounded like an explosion," Lee said. "It was extremely loud."

State Highway Patrol said a driver going the opposite direction fell asleep and veered into Murphy's lane. Murphy steered right to try to avoid the collision but was hit head on. His daughter was injured and taken to the hospital.

The driver, Jose Luis Hernandez, of Knightdale, is being charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

"Some no fault of him own, he gets taken out of this world," Reid said. "A little girl gets left without a dad. It's unfair."
"She's only 12," Lee said. "It just breaks my heart."

Many said Murphy's actions saved his daughter's life.

"Most girls, your dad, is your hero anyway," Lee said. "But he saved her life."

Nine months ago, Team Raines lost owner Daniel Raines in a motorcycle accident.

Like they did then, they'll support each other through their grief.

"I just felt like there's a black cloud that we're trying to move past and we will," Gillett said. "We're so close, such a family. We're going to come together like we have and we always do."
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