Family, friends attend funeral for teen killed in wreck - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Family, friends attend funeral for teen killed in drunk driving wreck

Posted: Updated:
Laura Fortenberry (Source: North Gaston High School) Laura Fortenberry (Source: North Gaston High School)
A deputy leads Howard Pasour into court Tuesday afternoon. A deputy leads Howard Pasour into court Tuesday afternoon.
The funeral at a church in Dallas on Thursday. The funeral at a church in Dallas on Thursday.
Howard Pasour (Source: Gaston Co. Jail) Howard Pasour (Source: Gaston Co. Jail)
Laura Fortenberry (left) and a friend. (Source: Legacy.com) Laura Fortenberry (left) and a friend. (Source: Legacy.com)

GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The funeral for a Lowell teen who was killed in a head-on crash Sunday night was held Thursday morning in Gaston County.

Friends and family members packed Greene's Funeral Service in Gastonia Wednesday night during the visitation for 17-year-old Laura Fortenberry who was killed by an alleged drunk driver.

On Thursday, many attended the funeral for Fortenberry, where a band played and a slideshow of images of her growing up were shown to those at Hardin Baptist Church in Dallas.

"They don't know what they took from everyone else," said Alison Hughes, a close friend. "Their friends, their family. He took a great person."

Fortenberry's grandfather told WBTV off-camera, "She was vivacious and wanted to be an FBI agent when she grew up."

Meanwhile, more disturbing information came to light concerning the wreck's suspect, who had been ordered to wear an ankle monitor from a previous DWI. That monitor was only required for two months because of state law.

Two phone calls that were made to Gaston County 911 in the minutes following a fatal DWI wreck which killed a teen Sunday night were released earlier this week.

The wreck happened on Dallas-Cherryville Highway around 9 p.m.  

The first call was made by Brenda Free who told the 911 operator the wreck occurred in front of her house.

911: Do you know how many people are injured?
Caller: No, I just know they need help.
911: Two vehicles involved?
Caller: There are two vehicles involved.
911: Was anyone pinned in the vehicle?
Caller: I wouldn't know… like I say it was head-on. It just looks like the cars are tore all to pieces… I just know they need somebody.

The second 911 call was placed by a woman, and her daughter can be heard in the background shouting out graphic details of the crash.  

911: Is the vehicle overturned?
Caller: The car is smoking like its about to blow up.
Caller's daughter:  Somebody is up under the [expletive] car, tell ‘em to hurry up and git out here!
911: Did any vehicle overturned?
Caller: Both of them.

Click here to listen to the 911 calls concerning the fatal wreck.

Authorities say Howard Pasour, 28, of Bessemer City, was driving drunk on the two-lane road when his car crossed the center line and hit an oncoming car in which Fortenberry was a passenger. 

Pasour was charged with several crimes including second-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

In court on Tuesday, a judge increased Pasour's bond from $2 million to $4 million.

Pasour has three previous DWI convictions, according to court records.  He was ordered to wear an ankle bracelet after his third impaired driving conviction last year. 

In North Carolina, however, state law prohibits judges from putting the monitoring devices on serious DWI offenders for more than 60 days and Pasour was allowed to remove the device in January.

Lawmakers say they are willing to revisit the state's laws on ankle-monitoring for people convicted for driving while impaired.

"Sixty days is not long enough," said Gaston County state senator James Forrester.  "Give the judge a longer option for how long he can put that bracelet on these people, because if it can save one life by keeping it on there, we ought to do it."

Offenders have to pay the fees for the monitor, and the 60-day maximum was put in place because some lawmakers feared poor offenders wouldn't be able to afford fees longer than that.

But Forrester days the primary concern should be with potential victims of drunk driving, not with the offenders.

Democratic state Sen. John Snow said he's willing to consider extending the maximum time the bracelets can be worn as well.

In court on Tuesday, Fortenberry's mother and several other relatives and friends appeared in court for Pasour's bond hearing.

"I stared him down, wanted him to look at me, wanted him to see the pain in my face," said Michelle Armstrong.

Pasour was allegedly passing several vehicles when his Jeep Cherokee collided head-on with an Oldsmobile carrying three teens, the NC Highway Patrol said.

The highway patrol said Pasour, who was also charged with habitual DWI in connection with the wreck, was drinking before Sunday's crash.

The Oldsmobile was driven by Victoria Elizabeth Iffergan, 19, of Bessemer City.  Fortenberry, was in the front passenger seat and Evan Griffith, 17, was in the back seat.  All three were taken to Carolinas Medical Center-Main in Charlotte.

Fortenberry was a 2010 graduate of North Gaston High School where she was a member of Renaissance Club, Chorus, and Powder Puff Football.  According to her obituary, she loved her friends, her pet, Daisey Mae, and trips to the beach. 

On Monday, North Gaston High School released a statement about her death.

"We wish to extend our deepest condolence to Laura's family and friends," the assistant principal said.  "We are deeply saddened by this tragedy.  Laura was a vivacious young lady actively involved in Chorus and the Career Technical Education Program.  Laura was well liked by all who knew her; she will be missed dearly."

Austin Rammell, the lead pastor of Venture church where Fortenberry was a member, said, "We are deeply saddened by the events that led to the death of Laura Fortenberry and hope that the community will increase social pressure against drunk driving."

Fortenberry's mother says her daughter did not die in vain.

"We're gonna change laws so these drunk drivers don't kill other people's children, mothers, fathers, siblings," Armstrong said.  "It's just not right, lets change the judicial system, lets change it today."

A funeral service will be held at Venture Church (formerly Hardin Baptist Church) in Dallas, NC, on Thursday at 11 a.m.  Interment will follow at Hillcrest Cemetery in Mt. Holly.

Related: Click here to view an online guest book for Laura

Memorials may be made to MADD, 5104 Western Blvd., Suite B, Raleigh, NC 27606. 

Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Powered by WorldNow