By Richard Rourk
Hundreds turned out for a special benefit car show held recently to help the family of Austin Peters cover funeral expenses.
Close friend Justin Price said that he knew he had to do something after he learned of Austin’s accidental drowning death.
“Austin loved working on cars, so we thought about organizing a car show,” Price said.
Price and other friends quickly put together the Austin Peters Memorial Car Show, which was held July 2 in the CVS parking lot at 917 N. Main Avenue.
Peters, 19, Erwin, died Saturday, June 26, during a trip with his family to the boat ramp at David Crockett Birthplace State Park in Limestone.
Peters drowned after going into the Nolichucky River about 4:15 p.m. His body was recovered about 10:25 p.m. by the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad, which was dispatched at 4:19 p.m. on June 26 after receiving a report of a man drowning in the river near the park’s boat ramp, according to a news release issued by the squad.
Price’s mother, Joni, knew that this was a way her son could help Austin’s family. “Justin wanted to help his friend any way he could,” Joni Price said. “As parents we just stepped out of the way and let the boys run with it.”
Justin Price said that it was important to him to be able to remember his friend. “We were buddies,” Justin Price said. “We would hang out in Mr. Freeman’s autobody class at Crockett. Austin was special. He would give you his shirt off his back. He was loyal to his friends and would stand up for them.”
Prior to his death, Peters had been working on his Chevy truck to get the vehicle running again.
“He had been rebuilding a motor for his truck,” Justin Price said. “We knew we wanted to have his truck at the car show so we were going to tow it to Erwin. His family and friends stepped up, put the motor together and drove his truck (to the show) in a matter of two days.”
Several area car clubs from the region came by to show their support.
“We’ve had so many cars set up and so many people came by and donated,” said Carrie Medley, who acted as a host for the Austin Peters Memorial Car Show. “We had so many different types of cars.”
Prizes were handed out to the car show participants.
“We had prizes that were donated from area O’Reilly’s, Autozones, Wiseman’s in Unicoi and countless others,” Medley said.
Joni Price said that many people came together to make this car show a success.
“Jeff Honeycutt, William Roberts, Jesse Stewart and Brayden and Samantha Barnett helped out so much,” Joni Price said. “Brandi, Anthony, Jay and Rylie Dunbar were also crucial in pulling this off. I have to thank everyone that came out and made this tribute to Austin a success.”
Condolences and memories for Peters may be shared with the family and viewed at www.valleyfuneralhome.net or on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ValleyFuneralHomeErwin.