July 4th, 1988 started off like any other day. I woke up and ate breakfast that my grandmother had fixed, which consisted of grits, sausage, and jelly toast. I lounged around for a couple of hours and eventually got in the shower and got dressed. I jumped in the car and went to meet my partners Piggy (Gregory Owens) and Ron Owens house. I kicked it with them for about an hour and Piggy and I left and drove to Ant Lee’s (Anthony Monroe) house. Ant Lee was going through some personal issues at the time and had recently just stopped going to school. Since I can remember when I first was able to come outside and play we were friends. The rest of our crew from the neighborhood which was called Colored Town consisted of Jerry McKoy, Forrest Hill, Daniel Owens, Lofton Kerr, Johnny Ray Newton, and Thomas McLamb and a few others who came in and out of town occasionally to stay with their relatives. I had been trying to convince Ant-Lee to go back to school. He had just recently got a job at the local wood factory and had just bought a Nissan 200SX. We decided to ride to Fayetteville to go to the mall and then go see Ant-Lee’s Uncle Douglas who lived in Fayetteville and was also in the military. Once we got back to town, Piggy and I jumped in my car and followed Ant Lee to the projects to meet up with Chris Thompson. As we pulled up I blew my horn and it got stuck. It had been doing this for the last week, so finally I just crawled under the car and unplugged it. We hung out there for a couple of hours then decided to drive to Clinton for the fireworks and to hang out in the parking lot of the Hardee’s. Piggy and I were in my car, Chris Thompson, his sister and Natasha Parker were in the car together and Ant Lee was in the car by himself. It was packed so we stayed there for a while. It was getting close to 12 a.m. and the crowd was dying down so we decided to leave. Now usually on the way back to town we would ride through the Burger King parking lot. For some reason, this night was different as we bypassed it and continued home. We had got stopped at a red light and Ant Lee was behind me. Once the light turned green I did not move. I was having fun with Ant Lee, eventually I drove off after he blew his horn about 10 times. So I’m leading the pack home with Chris behind me and Ant Lee behind him. We came to a small bridge on Hwy 24 and I noticed a car coming over the median directly towards me. I quickly reacted and swerved onto the grass. He barely missed me, but as I am looking in my rear view mirror, I see him crash into Chris car. Chris car bounced off of the car and slammed into the bridge on the opposite side. I quickly parked the car, and Piggy and I jumped out and ran towards Chris car. As we’re running we notice that Ant Lee’s back end of his car is sitting on top of the bridge rail and his front end was sitting on the ground. The driver’s car was an older model so it was made of all metal. Seeing that Chris and his passengers were okay, we ran towards Ant Lee’s car. The front end of his car was on fire. As we are running towards his car a guy who had stopped came out of nowhere and said the car is going to blow up, go find a fire extinguisher. I ran back to the car and drove like a mile up the street and pulled into someone’s driveway. Their dog immediately ran up to my door and was barking uncontrollably. I tried to blow my horn, but remembered I unplugged it earlier that day. I roared up the engine, but still no one came to the door. I pulled out the driveway and drove to the intersection, jumped out and tried to flag down passing cars. No one stopped, so I eventually returned to the scene. As I parked the car and ran back to where everyone was standing I noticed that the flames were growing larger. Just as I got there Ant Lee regained consciousness and started screaming. That’s when the flames started spreading throughout the car and he was burned alive. To this day I can still hear the screams. Once the paramedics and firefighter arrived it took them about two hours to pry him out of the car because the engine parts were wrapped around his legs. Once they finally got him out of the car, they had to place him in the body bag with the engine parts still wrapped around his legs because they were unable to get them off. My stepfather had drove to the scene because my car battery had went dead. As he is giving me a jump, I remember the State Trooper stopping and asking us if we were okay. Ant Lee’s mom was in the backseat of the Troopers car and I can still remember the look she had on her face. Her son, my best friend was gone because of the negligence of a drunk driver who was also a police officer. He eventually copped a plea bargain and never did any jail time. So a middle finger goes out to the Sampson County judicial system. TO MY FRIEND ANTHONY LEE MONROE, I MISS YOU AND CONTINUE TO WATCH OVER ME. GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.
ANTHONY LEE MONROE (DECEMBER 18, 1969- JULY 5, 1988)