GRAY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Candlelight flickered brightly but solemnly outside DC Fitness Monday night as community members remembered 46-year-old Derrick Carson, one of three victims of last Friday night’s three-vehicle crash on I-26.
The circle of family and friends — nearly 100 people — pitched in to describe the man Carson was while mourning a loss that hit close to their homes and hearts.
Angel Briggs had worked with Carson for four years as a personal trainer at DC Fitness, a dream Carson had envisioned and later turned into a reality.
She painted the picture of a passionate person who sought to inspire those around him.
“He was always very inspirational,” Briggs said. “He always was smiling. That was my favorite part about Derrick — his smile. He was always just a positive light in this building. If he wasn’t here for any reason, it was a different place when he wasn’t here.”
Carson left behind a wife, two daughters and a son.
“He was a really big family man, and that just made me care about him even more,” Briggs said. “His family was always first in everything he did. He always put them first to make sure they were taken care of before anything else.”
Once the candles were blown out Monday night, the grieving community knew another light remained: Carson’s legacy.
“Let’s keep this gym going,” Briggs said. “I just want to keep it alive; I want to keep our people in here. I don’t want to worry whether [DC Fitness] has any members or not…we will continue our training.
“We want to make sure the public knows that we’re here, and we’re not going anywhere.”
According to the Johnson City Police Department, Carson had been traveling toward Gray on I-26 when — for unknown reasons — he lost control of his vehicle.
Police reports said the vehicle then traveled across the median into oncoming traffic before hitting an eastbound Altima carrying 48-year-old Tonya Westmoreland and 17-year-old Jalynn Chisholm of Johnson City.
All three people died.
The crash remains under investigation.