Two years after Tony McCoy died driving drowsy, his family continues to heal

  • Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012 12:22 a.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, December 31, 2012 8:07 a.m.
Kim McCoy holds a picture of son, Antonio
Kim McCoy holds a picture of son, Antonio "Tony" McCoy, who died about two years ago in a car accident after he fell asleep while driving. Photo by Shavonne Potts/Salisbury Post

On the morning of Oct. 31, 2010 as the sun rose and people went about their day, Kim McCoy’s world came to a halt. It was a Sunday and she’d gotten up that day to attend church, but never made it.

Her life changed after one phone call. A Salisbury Police officer asked to meet with her.


“I kept asking him what did it concern,” she said.

Call it mother’s intuition, but she guessed it concerned her son, Antonio “Tony” McCoy. It did.

She called the local hospital before the officer arrived to see if Tony was admitted. He was not there.

“I still felt something was wrong,” she said.

She finally arrived in a parking lot near Blue Bay Seafood restaurant. McCoy’s sister-in-law and a cousin were with her.

The officer exited his patrol vehicle and from the passenger’s side exited a chaplain.

“Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion,” she said.

The 23-year-old had died after he crashed into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer.

The Honda he was driving failed to round a curve in the road and he drove straight into the path of the truck.

Police believed McCoy fell asleep at the wheel.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates about one in six deadly crashes involves a drowsy driver.

Tony had been working lots of overtime at Magna where he’d been working for a year. He normally worked third shift.

In order to stay awake he would take Stacker 2, a pill commonly used for weight loss. The yellow pills are sold in drug stores, convenience stores and are used by some to restore energy.

“I would say to him, ‘Tony you’ve got to slow down. Son you got to sleep,’ ” Kim said.

Tony, who played the drums at church, at one point fell asleep in the midst of playing.

Kim McCoy’s nephew, Ricky McCoy, Tony’s best friend said there were days Tony worked 12 or 16 hours.

“One time he worked 80 hours in one week,” Ricky said.

He knew his cousin often took the pills.

Comfort

Since his death, Kim McCoy finds comfort in her son’s legacy, in the friends who share how he changed their lives.

“That’s an honor for them to talk about your child,” she said.

There were at least 1,500 people who attended his funeral, many of them young people.

“Tony touched all hearts. He was real,” she said.

McCoy’s faith in God is what saw her through.

“If it wasn’t for God I would’ve lost my mind,” she said.

Holidays are harder than other days.

“I have my moments. I miss him,” Kim said.

There isn’t one thing she misses the most.

“I miss him — all of it,” Kim said.

She misses the small things too like when he’d place his head on her shoulder.

His head was so big, she joked, she’d have to tilt her head to accommodate space for his head to rest.

Ricky said what he’ll miss the most is his cousin’s smile.

Memories

As children the two were inseparable. They had their moments and like brothers they’d fight and fuss, Kim said.

“As time goes on it does hurt less, but he’ll never be forgotten,” Ricky said.

Kim reflects on the good memories — the things he did or said as a child.

She and Ricky laugh at a framed picture of he and Tony together as toddlers. In the picture, the two boys are in matching outfits with huge smiles on their faces.

“He wasn’t an ordinary child,” Kim said.

When her mother underwent kidney failure. It was a 4-year-old Tony who sat with his grandmother.

He was a good kid, Kim said.
“He didn’t hang out in the streets,” she said.

Tony thought he was a mechanic, Kim said. He often tried to fix things around the house.

“Nothing really got fixed. He use to make me mad,” she said.

He would borrow her tools to “repair” something and then misplace the tools, she said with a laugh.

“Tony was a wonderful young man. He always tried to keep the peace,” said SaTonya Smyre, a cousin.

She remembered Tony as someone who was respectful and who never got into trouble, she said.

“He was raised well and his mother did an awesome job raising him,” Smyre said.

Cousins Ronnisha and ShaRhonda McCoy, both sisters, said they loved Tony and will greatly miss him. The two said they thought about him daily.

His mother believes he was different because he was called for a greater purpose.

Kim believes that purpose was to make a difference in the lives he touched.

The last time the family was all together was a week before Tony died. His aunt Sandy, also Ricky’s mother, took them all out to dinner.

The dinner was a birthday celebration for Kim.

“We had a good time. It was perfect,” Kim said.

In the midst of the dinner no one would’ve ever imagined that would be the last time they’d all be together, happy.

“You don’t think about that stuff,” she said.

“It’s been two years and he’s still being missed. There’s not a single day that goes by and he’s not thought of,” Sandy said.

She was living in Atlanta at the time.

“I truly believe his death brought me home,” Sandy said.

She has since moved from Atlanta to be closer to home.

“Since being back she (Kim) and I have gotten closer and I’ve gotten closer to God,” Sandy said.

Tony was an organ donor and two months after the crash Kim received a letter saying someone received his eyes.

She couldn’t deal with the organ donation at the time, but since has come to terms.

After the crash, Kim created a photo album with all the childhood pictures, momentos and awards she’d saved throughout the years.

The last page of the album contains all of the items in her son’s pockets the morning he died, including a packet of half used Stacker 2.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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