Surviving Johnston County crash victims speak out against impaired driving

SELMA, N.C. (WTVD) -- Hailey and Stephen Wagner, the brother and sister who survived a deadly crash in Johnston County, are now home as they continue to recover from their injuries.

The teens were in a vehicle driven by their grandmother, Marjory Howell Wagner with them was their friend, Ethan Michael Handley.

According to arrest warrants, alcohol and speed caused Felix Antonio Juarez-Antunez, 34, to crash near the intersection of M. Durwood Stephenson Highway and Wilsons Mills Road on Sunday night.



"I knew instantly that my grandma had died because I was in the passengers' seat and she was all leaned back in her chair and I reached over to touch her stomach. I knew she wasn't moving and she wasn't moving. So I knew she had died. But it was probably the next day that I found out about Ethan and Hailey's injuries," Stephen said.

Stephen suffered a fracture through his spine in between the shoulder blades, has bruising across his chest and breathing issues.

The crash flung Hailey from the vehicle.

"I just remember nothing... And then just waking up as if I was in a dream," said Hailey.

Hailey has a broken neck, fractured spine as well as chemical burns from gasoline.

Juarez-Antunez, an undocumented immigrant, did not have a driver's license. Police estimated he was speeding 90 mph in a 45 mph zone at the time of the deadly crash.

"He didn't know he was going to hit us. We didn't know we were going to get hit. But at the same time, he knew he was driving drunk. He knew that nothing's good out of driving drunk. There's nothing good that comes out of drinking itself," said Stephen.

Despite their own injuries, both are choosing to focus on their late friend and grandmother.

"He could always make you laugh. No matter what situation you're in. He was very good at understanding, great at listening," Hailey said of Ethan.

"She was everybody's grandma. She's just always there for you," Stephen said of his grandmother.

Moving forward, Hailey, the newly-crowned Miss Garner Outstanding Teen, said she will now make drunk driving awareness part of her platform.

On what would have been her grandmother's 66th birthday, Hailey shared a message with her:

"I love you. And happy birthday. And thank you for everything."

Smithfield Police confirmed that Juarez-Antunez, a Smithfield resident, is under an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer.

Both Hailey and Stephen hope to return to school after Thanksgiving break.

There will be a memorial service for Ethan on Monday, another for Marjory on Tuesday.

If you are interested in assisting the Wagner's with their medical costs, click here.
Copyright © 2019 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.