0

Teen charged in accident that took father's life

Amadi Stephens

Amadi Stephens

SUWANEE — Amadi Stephens is a good kid. The best, if you ask his football coach.

“We all love him to death,” Kevin Reach said Wednesday. “He’s been through so much already.”

On April 20, tragedy struck for the 17-year-old two-sport athlete at Collins Hill High School. Again.

Amadi and his father, Bruce, left a Subway restaurant that Saturday afternoon. The elder Stephens did not feel well and reportedly asked Amadi to drive the family’s Ford Explorer home. As they went south on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, the car veered into the grass on the outside of the roadway.

Amadi, who did not have a driver’s license, overcorrected, then overcorrected again. The car flipped. Bruce Stephens was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown through the windshield. He was later pronounced dead at Gwinnett Medical Center.

It was all brought back to the surface this week.

On Wednesday — 109 days later — Amadi Stephens was formally charged with second-degree vehicular homicide in the crash that killed his best friend, the only parent he had left after cancer took his mother two years earlier.

He was caught off guard by the arrest, Reach said.

“He’s just a young kid, he doesn’t know how this kind of thing works,” Reach said. “He just knows he doesn’t have a mother or father right now.”

Gwinnett County police said they didn’t have a choice with the charges. While the extenuating circumstances will “likely be addressed in court,” the letter of the law necessitated an arrest, spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said. It’s not unusual for accident investigations to take several months.

“We have some limited discretion,” Smith said, “but ultimately we have to charge him.”

Second-degree vehicular homicide is a misdemeanor. Stephens — a wide receiver and defensive back on Collins Hill’s football team, as well as a varsity basketball player — was also charged with no driver’s license and improper lane change. He spent less than 90 minutes in the Gwinnett County jail Tuesday before being released on $4,250 bond.

Smith declined to comment on what kind of role Stephens’ lack of a driver’s license might play in court.

More than 500 people attended Bruce Stephens’ funeral in April, Reach said. Frank Cox, pastor at North Metro First Baptist Church and team chaplain for Collins Hill football, delivered the eulogy.

After the accident, the CHHS Touchdown Club started an account to raise funds for Amadi and older siblings Jasmine and Kenton, both in their early 20s. Contributions can be made to “The Stephens Family Children” fund at the Delta Community Credit Union branch inside the Kroger on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

“The financial situation for these young people,” a Facebook post said, “is dire.”

As his team prepares for its Aug. 30 season opener against Central Gwinnett, Amadi Stephens has more than football on his mind. The future is uncertain, in many ways.

“He’s resilient,” Reach said. “He’s overcome so much. I’m just so proud of him and where he is after all this time … He’s the epitome of what you look for in a Collins Hill kid.”

Comments

Erk 1 year ago

This cannot be happening ! Amadi IS a great kid. His father had some health issues and I am sure Amadi was doing exactly what Bruce wanted him to do - drive him home. Bruce was a great father and loved his kids more than anything. To arrest Amadi and charge him with his death is a travesty. Danny Porter - there is nothing to gain with going through with this. And please don't think I am saying this because Amadi is a great addition to CHHS football. I am saying this because we know the family, we knew and loved Bruce, and we know Amadi would do anything for his Dad. Hang in there Amadi !!! This community will stand beside you all the way through this.

3

Veryconcernedcitizen 1 year ago

The fact that you made it a point to say, "And please don't think I am saying this because Amadi is a great addition to CHHS football", makes me think that is exactly why you are saying this!

0

Erk 1 year ago

Just the opposite. But then again, he IS a great addition to CHHS football if you consider character and values.

0

rmbr343 1 year ago

From what I understand, his dad's drivers license was suspended...

0

hangdogs 1 year ago

Please Mr. DA. I think we have much larger issues than prosecuting this kid for a horrible, horrible accident.

0

Veryconcernedcitizen 1 year ago

I pretty sure someone losing their life in an auto accident is a "larger issue." I can't think of many issues that are larger.

0

rmbr343 1 year ago

I assure you, the Police Department and the Solicitor's office are not happy about having to put this young man through all of this. Unfortunately, their hands are tied. If we expect our officials to uphold the laws, we must understand that they have to do it across the board. Intent, or lack thereof in this case, has nothing to do with it. That part of it is up to the courts to sort out. As was stated in the article, the courts will take all of the circumstances into consideration. Your statement about the community standing by Amadi through all of this is what's most important right now. That's what he needs to help him face the future; not only as he goes through the court process, but also as he recovers from the loss of his father.

1

Pcarter 1 year ago

Amadi is more than a good kid he is a fantastic one! I have known this family since the day LaPonda found out she was pregnant with Amadi. I have watched the children grow up in a home full of love. This is an example of a family destroyed by the expenses of a terminally ill loved one, not one of any crime. I loved Bruce and LaPonda, yet my concern at this point is with the minor child Amadi. He does not deserve this added pressure in his life, he has been through so much. I know the rules yet surely there is some other way to address this that does not destroy his life along with his parents.

0

AGoodKing 1 year ago

They actually didn't have to arrest him. He was a minor driving at his father's direction. If they are making him responsible, you can put that right on GCPD and Danny Porter. What about this 'improper lane change'? He wasn't changing lanes, he was an inexperienced minor driver who lost control and over corrected, 'drifted' as the story puts it. An insult charge to get the maximum effect in the quota driven arrest docket book. What is a horrible and terrible tragedy, happening to an already traumatized family and particularly to this young boy on the verge of manhood, now orphaned -has been intensified by the needless criminalizing of this tragic accident. If guilty of anything, it is for obeying his father (which we tend to look on as good character not as criminal behavior) and perhaps driving without a license; nothing more. Good job GCPD and D.A.'s, you do us all proud. Guess you just have to blame somebody.

0

Veryconcernedcitizen 1 year ago

Amadi is an adult in the eyes of the law. His father could not have given him permission to break the law. Amadi is responsible for the accident plain and simple. Stop trying to blame the Cops for enforcing the law and doing their jobs correctly.

1

rmbr343 1 year ago

What on God's green earth does "an insult charge to get the maximum effect in the quota driven arrest docket book" mean? What does that have to do with anything? your post is an emotionally charged rant directed at people who are just doing what they get paid to do. You really think the police and solicitor want to put this young man through this? As a Driver's Ed teacher I can assure you that both Amadi and his father knew the rules regarding whether or not he should be driving. All teens know the rules. It's a shame his dad's poor judgement (and suspended driver's license) has put the young man in this position, but he could have said "no."

1

Veryconcernedcitizen 1 year ago

Lets break this down. He didn't have a driver's license correct? So he should not have been driving in the first place correct? Then due to his inability to drive he gets into an accident correct? His father, the same person who allowed an unlicensed person to drive, is killed in the accident correct? Yes these are criminal acts and they should be criminalized! Unfortunately someone is to blame. The young man is an adult and is responsible for his own behavior. Just because his father gave him permission to drive does not make it acceptable or legal for that matter. I can't walk up and punch you in the head because my mom said it was ok. We have laws. We pay the police to enforce those laws. When a level of evidence that requires the police to charge someone with a crime is met I don't expect the police to just turn a blind eye. It might not be the popular choice, but the right choice is to charge him with the crimes he committed. I understand this young man is a popular football player. However, it's better he learn now that life is not always a popularity contest like in high school.

5

Erk 1 year ago

He is a popular football player, but, by far, this is not a popularity contest. I think most understand the law and don't blame the police, and also appreciate the GDP reporting this from a personal side and not as a typical crime story. We just know that charges and threat of possible punishment would pale in comparison to what Amadi has faced in the past few years.

0

FormerEagle 1 year ago

Why are you so enchanted with the fact that he's a football player?

1

mickey 1 year ago

I feel very sorry for him.......but, let's really look at this. What if it was YOUR father, mother, son, daughter that he ran into and killed?

2

hangdogs 1 year ago

The point is, he DIDN'Tkill anyone else's father, mother, son, daughter. If he had, the conditions would have been entirely different. I've never heard of this kid before reading this article, but he lost his mother and was in an accident that caused the death of his father. That is punishment enough for anyone without piling on the kid.

Let's turn the table. What if your son/daughter lost control of a car that you told him to drive, and you were killed. How would you feel about him being charged? Wouldn't your death be enough punishment? Or say, your spouse was killed and you survived, would you still want him charged?

0

rmbr343 1 year ago

My child wouldn't be driving without the proper license. We went through the correct licensing procedures because it is the LAW.

1

R 1 year ago

I'm sorry but with all due respect what kind MAJOR loss of judgement occurred to put an UNLICENSED driver behind the wheel?

What kind of education has been put forth in our schools that this person would consider this a viable option?

This was a SATURDAY Afternoon event...

Friends... Taxis...

The real miracle here is - in this area - how did other drivers AVOID the incident?

Sadness? Absolutely... Shouldn't be charged? Absolutely NOT.

Let the judge do whats right in court but the metro area is not the the place to wing it like this.

And for the record, I'd be MUCH harder on close family because I KNOW they know better.

0

blueyesol 1 year ago

It is so easy for people to get on here and make speculations about what happened, the law and what kind of young man Amadi is...standing on your pulpit and looking down on the situation and making your judgments or own interpretations! For those that have NO IDEA what truly happened or what details are surrounded around the events, but I guess that's what these blog comment feeds are for...to allow people to come to their own conclusions about the law, details of the accident, or the circumstances around why he would of gotten behind the wheel of the car if he didn't have a license.

I know in my heart and experiences with the Stephens family that they were just like many of us. They had a strong bond and love for one another and struggled with the same things in life that I am sure many of those that are making these comments.

The amazing thing is that once again, Amadi, his brother and sister will overcome this adversity and great things are in store for them! God Bless them and I pray for them everyday! Go Eagle community or anyone else for that fact that wants to be a positive influence in their lives!

1

R 1 year ago

The simple truth is he shouldn't been there... NO WAY... No How.

There is NO explanation - PERIOD.

This is why drivers are REQUIRED to have a valid license and VALID insurance. Perhaps dire straights wouldn't be the rule of the day if INSURANCE covered the incident to some extent - its not going to now BECAUSE rules were ignored.

I'm sorry and I' sure he's a fantastic guy and the pain of losing BOTH parents is off the charts but that really doesn't apply - SURELY he could have called SOMEONE.

I also understand and are aware of cultural differences and that many countries don't even require licensing - but WE DO.

Perhaps others can learn from this...

0

Gwinnettsince1991 1 year ago

All of you are embarrassing yourselves. A young man has lost both his parents in the past few years and I see a bunch of snarky, troll like comments. I am saddened by the lack of heart of this community.

4

rmbr343 1 year ago

The court will sort this all out. If there are extenuating circumstances, they'll be presented. Everyone just needs to keep supporting Amadi through this process.

1

R 1 year ago

I'm sorry I've seen TOO many drivers operating drunk, suspended or without licenses that inflict so much needless suffering on themselves and others that the trend of giving out a pass, however heartfelt and devastating the surrounding circumstances may be, I fear will only encourage more of the same and probably already has.

Had we been "TUFFER" , perhaps the pair would have found an alternate way home right from the start and we would NOT be reading this.

This lack of license being no big deal is still a minority view.

(as in a small percentage of general population - it crosses all demographic groups)

But I fear it grows and we still have way too many repeat offenders.

0

mateo 1 year ago

The charge is a misdemeanor; Danny Porter prosecutes felonies. You should blame Gerald Balney if you feel it necessary to blame someone. The law is the law.

0

JC 1 year ago

I'm glad that I'm not an elected official. No one on here seems to know what elected official does what job. Danny is the DA and prosecutes felonies. Rossanna Szabo is the Solicitor General and prosecutes misdemeanors, not Gerald Blaney. At any rate, this is a very sad story and I hope that the outcome is positive. @veryconcernedcitizen, you seem to live in a different world than the rest of us. I hope that you don't find yourself in a situation where you could you some compassion one day, because you seem unable to understand the situation that this young man is in.

2

R 1 year ago

Hey it may be uncomfortable and compassion can be shown but Concerned has done NOTHING wrong.

Decisions have consequences that's part of life that DOESN'T bend.

0

gwinnett_fan 1 year ago

This is a heartbreaking story on so many levels. My prayers are with this young man and his family as they cope with their tragic loss. He's far too young to have buried both of his parents. Praying also for wisdom for the judge who will hear his case...

3

muddawg 1 year ago

Someone needs to start a fund to hire an attorney for this young man. Or an attorney needs to pro bono this case. Does anyone know if he has an attorney??

0

R 1 year ago

YOU'RE someone ... get on it dawg.

0

muddawg 1 year ago

“The Stephens Family Children” fund at the Delta Community Credit Union branch inside the Kroger on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road....

1

Kat 1 year ago

Dad probably would have survived had he been wearing his seat belt.

1

msshack03 1 year ago

Praying hard for this young man. What a terrible time in his life. I hope he has his Collins Hill community rallying behind him, making this a little easier. People, maybe the law has to try him, but you all do not. Obviously this young man has been through the trenches of hell. I can't imagine what he is going through. I do not know him, but my heart breaks for him, that is for sure. If you have to say something nasty, then try your best to keep it to yourself. Honestly, what does saying such things achieve??? Nothing positive, that is for sure. God be with him.

0

Sign in to comment