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MIDLOTHIAN (CBS 11 NEWS) – The family of a North Texas teen killed while police chased a suspected car thief has questions… but, there are no worthwhile answers.
Garrett Blake Tolliver, 18, was just trying to get home Friday afternoon. That’s when police say a driver in a van stolen from Waxahachie ended his journey on Highway 287 in Midlothian—and ended dreams that had only begun to take wing.
“He was going to grow up to do amazing things,” says family friend, Whitney Hood. Hood describes Tolliver as the person in the room who was always looking to make others laugh and feel better. “He loved fishing. He loved hunting–anything outside on the lake–water, sports—anything.”
But, as much as he loved the outdoors, Hood says the true love of his life was his girlfriend, Shelby Nicole Franklin. “They were attached at the hip and he changed so much when he met her.”
Tolliver’s mom, Stacey, already had love on “layaway”… telling CBS 11 News that she had already bought a pair of tiny John Deere boots for the grandchild that she hoped would wear them one day. Now, she plans to bury those boots with Garrett.
“When Garrett got off work early, the last voice that he heard was his Mom’s,” says Hood, “and there’s comfort in that. But, we don’t understand why it wasn’t stopped…because it was so senseless.”
According to police, the stolen vehicle that prompted the chase was equipped with a GPS tracking device. So why, family and friends now ask, was it necessary to pursue it?
While attempting to evade police, the suspected thief began driving northbound in the southbound lanes of 287 and slammed into Tolliver’s vehicle head on. Both drivers died in the fiery crash that followed. Midlothian police are still working to identify the suspected thief.
“Beyond angry, beyond angry,” says Hood as tears filled her eyes, “because of someone who wanted to steal a van? For what? And to take someone’s life over that? I don’t understand. It’s indescribable the anger we feel.”
Friends have launched a GoFundMe effort to help the family with funeral expenses and to allow them to take time off to grieve. But, the loss has touched even strangers. More than $10,000 has been raised in just the past two days. Still, there is only so much that anyone can do.
“They feel like their whole life has been taken away,” says Hood. “You’re not supposed outlive your children.”
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