Knoxville/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on June 11, 2024
Knoxville Community Supports Family After Devastating Loss in Western Avenue CrashSource: Google Street View

In a heartbreaking incident that has ignited a surge of community support, Knoxville grapples with the tragic aftermath of a fatal collision on Western Avenue. Krista Maples, 31, and her 10-year-old son Grayson were among the three people who died in the multivehiside crash on June 6, according to a report by WATE. Maples' children, two-year-old Walker, four-year-old Lennon, and eight-year-old Bentley, survived the impact but sustained injuries and are currently in the hospital.

Mark Latham II, brother of the deceased and caught in the heart of this family tragedy, in a statement obtained by WVLT, expressed the difficulty of grappling with their loss. "It's unimaginable for us," he said, indicating the closeness of their family bond. Surviving son Bentley, who loved baseball and aspired to pitch for the local team, was being taught the game by Latham II, who also noted that the Maples and Lathom children were not just kin but best friends.

Amidst the tragedy, the Knoxville community has rallied to provide assistance and comfort to the family. Webb Learning Center, where Maples' children attended daycare, initiated a fundraiser and collected items for care packages to support the young survivors. In a heartbreaking recount, Kristin Webb of Webb Learning Center told WBIR, "These babies loved their mama and she would do anything for her children."

Another source of support emerged from Knoxville Pays It Forward, which also set up a fundraiser. Recovering from their injuries, the surviving children are split between East Tennessee Children's Hospital and Vanderbilt Medical Center. "We asked for clothing, we asked for things that would be helpful at the hospital — shampoo, conditioner, body washes, towels, easy-to-get-on-and-off clothes, shoes," Web explained, detailing the outpouring of support from the community.

As the Lathams and the community face the daunting reality of two funerals and the long-term care of three injured children, donation efforts continue. A GoFundMe page has been set up to ease the financial strain. Looking beyond the grief, Latham II told WVLT, "We're just trying to plan out the rest of their lives now. We're just going to make sure they're well taken care of and happy."