Family of I-85 crash victims speaks out

LAWRENCEVILLE - Two weeks after a massive wreck on Interstate 85 claimed the lives of three family members and seriously injured another, the Randles formally addressed the media Monday on how the family is coping in the wake of the incident and their feelings concerning the young man arrested for allegedly triggering the deadly crash.

Falleen Randle - who lost her daughter, Whitney Randle; her son, Alexander Randle; and her grandson, Kayden Alexander Randle-Finley - said the aftermath of the March 31 crash is going to be a "hard and long road." She said, though, she continues to find solace in the memory of her loved ones who died when the 2003 Ford Excursion they were traveling in hit the median wall and flipped after allegedly being struck by a speeding motorist.

"My three loving angels are helping me the most," she told reporters at Gwinnett Medical Center, adding she taught her children to "live every day like it was your last, because you are never guaranteed tomorrow."

Flanked by her mother, Molly Dubach-Preston; sister, Sulianna Chandler; and Whitney Randle's fiance, Latavius Finley, and a few close friends, Falleen Randle said the family continues to hold on to hope for her husband, Demetrius Randle, who remains in critical condition at GMC.

The Randles attended last Friday's highly emotional probable cause and bond hearing for Carmon Cody Rhoden, the 20-year-old Gainesville man police believe hit the SUV with his red Acura RSX and left the scene. Members wept and yelled when a Gwinnett police investigator testified Rhoden was averaging 112 miles per hour in the moments leading to the wreck. Chief Magistrate Judge George Hutchinson found sufficient evidence to bind all 10 charges against the man, including four counts of vehicular homicide and hit and run. Rhoden, who police testified was drinking beer hours before the crash, was later denied bond. He maintains his innocence.

Randle family and friends said Monday they forgive Rhoden - "we can't heal without that first," Dubach-Preston said - and hope to become advocates for stiffening laws that deal with reckless driving and instances of hit and run. They do, however, expect Rhoden to pay for his alleged involvement in the wreck. Falleen Randle took issue with Friday's hearing in which she alleged no one from Rhoden's family expressed any "gesture" of concern for her family.

"I am relieved that he wasn't given bond," she said.

Friends of the Randle family have established a memorial fund to help pay for funeral costs and other expenses. Donations can be made to the Randle Family Memorial Fund at Georgia Trust Bank by either visiting the bank or mailing a check to 2725 Mall of Georgia Blvd., Buford, GA 30519. For more information, call 770-614-7644.