Northwest Florida

Nearly $40,000 raised for family who lost girls to suspected drunk driver

PACE, Fla. (WKRG) - Small memorials have been left at the location where Melanie Harrell and her children were in the car when they were hit head-on by a suspected drunk driver. 

They were within a minute of being home in Pace about to turn from Woodbine Road on to Dunning Drive. 

"There's nothing that's going to replace the kids he lost," Montana Cherry said. "He loved his girls but we're trying to ensure they get a nice memorial. He wants to be by his wife's side obviously throughout this and try to nurse her back to health so this is going to be a big burden off of him."

Cherry works with Matthew Harrell at Emerald Coast Dragway in Holt. He and his coworkers have been raising money as Matthew and Melanie prepare to bury their 7-year-old Stormie Harrell and 17-year-old Sidney Dowdy. 

They've raised almost $40,000 in two days on GoFundMe. Cherry has fond memories of the girls at the drag strip.

"His daughter, the 17-year-old, was a lot of help up in the tower," Cherry said. "His 7-year-old daughter was always fun to have in the tower too. Just a cute girl running around. I know if anything happened to us like that he'd be the first to jump up and try to help so we just want to try and ease the burden."

McKenzie Murphy, 18, was released from the hospital and Melanie is still recovering at Sacred Heart. 

There will be a benefit May 19th at Emerald Coast Dragway for the Harrell Family.

In the meantime, the state attorney's office has filed a motion for pretrial detention that would keep Kelly in jail until trial. He's charged with driving under the influence manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury and vehicle homicide.


Mobile County

Baldwin County

Northwest Florida