Dream turns to nightmare after hit-and-run accident claims life
By Shavonne Potts
On the night of Aug. 18, 2007, Stacy McCluney said she dreamed of burying her son in all white.
The nightmare played out for real days later when McCluney buried her 15-year-old son, Tony Ramsey, the victim of a hit-and-run car accident.
Tony died a year ago this week. His mother buried him in his favorite colors ó white and purple.
She hasn’t been able to accept his death really ó especially since the District Attorney’s Office decided to drop a charge against the driver of the car. See related article this page.The night of the accident, Aug. 19, McCluney was preparing Sunday dinner with many of her son’s favorites, including macaroni and cheese.
Her telephone rang. It was Tony’s father. He said, “You need to come to the hospital,” and he quickly hung up.
McCluney put the phone down and knew. “I told my daughter, ‘Your brother is dead,’ ” she said.
No one told her until she arrived at the hospital, but McCluney said she had a feeling.
Tony Ramsey was walking along the 2700 block of West Innes Street with two friends, Damien Curry and Curry’s cousin, Demarcus Lewis.
It was hot and humid and the teens were heading to a nearby store just before 10 p.m.
The teens said they heard a noise and when they turned around, Tony, who had been lagging behind the others, was on the ground.
A motorist stopped to administer CPR while Curry used Tony’s cell phone to call 911.
The next phone call Curry made was to his father, Maurice Alexander.
Investigators said Tonya Yvette Clodfelter, 41, struck the teen, but did not stop. She continued on to her apartment complex further down Innes Street.
In her statement to Highway Patrol Trooper J.M. Ward, Clodfelter said she saw the teens on the right side of the road. She said they pointed toward the sky, and fearing they had weapons, she swerved and “hit something.”
At the time of the incident, Ward called the damage to Clodfelter’s 1984 Nissan extensive.
Once Clodfelter arrived home, she told a neighbor to call 911.
Ward said Clodfelter offered no reason for not stopping. She was later charged with felony hit-and-run.
Tony’s father, also named Tony and called “Big Tony” by those who know him, had arrived at Maurice Alexander’s house a few minutes before the accident to pick up his son.
When Alexander heard from his son, he and Big Tony drove to the accident scene, where they found rescue workers still working on Tony.
At the hospital
McCluney recalled thinking her son wasn’t even supposed to be on that road that night.
Tony was supposed to be with his father buying school clothes in Statesvillle. When McCluney got the phone call, she was expecting it to be Big Tony saying he was bringing their son home.
By the time McCluney walked into the hospital lobby, other relatives and friends were already there, including her father, Horace Davis; her sisters; Big Tony; school officials; and Tony’s friends.
Right after the wreck, everyone who had been at the scene immediately began calling others.
She wanted to see her son, but first she had to sign hospital paperwork.
“The nurse came to me to sign papers … DOA papers,” McCluney said.
Dead On Arrival.
She asked to see her son, knowing what his body would likely look like.
“I wanted to see the damage that the car had done,” she said.
McCluney’s daughter, Anisha, who everyone calls Molly, now 18, had just talked to her brother by cell phone before the accident.
“Tony had told her they were walking to the store,” McCluney said.
Trying to cope
McCluney said she fills her days by just staying busy.
“It’s something I wouldn’t want to live again,” she said.
Except, in a way she lives the nightmare again, every night.
She just can’t seem to erase images of his body on a hospital table covered with a sheet, except for his face.
His face, McCluney said, was nearly unrecognizable with swelling and bruises.
“I recognized his hands,” she said, crying.
Right after Tony’s death, McCluney took a leave of absence from work.
“I had a bunch of time on my hands to sit and think,” she said.
When she got to the point that she no longer wanted to sit and think, reliving that horrific night, she returned to work. McCluney continues to keep herself occupied with work, family and friends.
“Every day is different,” she said.
Her family and Tony’s friends check on McCluney constantly.
“They come by to check on me every day,” she said.
On the anniversary of his death, the family surprised McCluney with a candlelight vigil at her Spencer home.
She had planned to go out of town, but came home to the memorial. The group gathered on the front lawn with purple and white balloons. Attached to them were messages saying they were honoring Tony’s death and requested the recipient say a prayer.
McCluney has to catch herself. Sometimes she says it seems as though Tony is not dead, but away at school or at a friend’s house.
“It seems like he’ll walk through the door,” she said.
His sister created a MySpace page in his honor. The two were close, McCluney said. “She has her good days and bad days,” she said of Anisha.
Tony was a popular teen. For what would have been his 16th birthday, his family had a gathering April 5 to celebrate the life he lived and a birthday he would never see.
There were hundreds of people ó family and friends, some McCluney had never met. “They said they met him on MySpace and wanted to come,” she said.
There were so many who gathered to remember the young man who made them laugh, liked to wear suits and wanted to become a cartoonist. McCluney also remembers her son making her laugh when she’d had a bad day or when he taught her “the latest dance moves.”
“He was just Tony. He was a character. He kept people entertained,” she said.
Before moving to Spencer, McCluney found more of Tony’s sketches underneath his bed, some unfinished.
He drew all of the time, his mother said.
If he was bored in class, he’d sketch. It sometimes meant a phone call from the teacher, but it was what he liked to do.
Tony also used to draw on fellow classmates’ sneakers. The students would get Tony to draw cartoon characters on their new white sneakers.
He told his mother that he wanted to be a cartoonist.
But like any mother, she would have been happy with any dream he wanted to fulfill.
“Anything he chose … I would’ve been content,” she said.
Tony got his artistic talent from his father, who also draws.
Often McCluney finds herself in a place where she can just be close to her son, at his gravesite.
She often visits the grave during the holidays, making sure to change the decorations.
One night McCluney looked up to the sky and saw the moon shining brightly.
She wondered if the moon would cast its light on Tony’s grave, so she got into her car and drove to the cemetery.
Even now, when she closes her eyes, she can still see him on that hospital table.
“I was in disbelief. It still has not hit me yet,” she said.
He would’ve begun his sophomore year at North Rowan High and most likely would be playing football.
The school dedicated the 2008 yearbook to Tony, featuring many of his pictures and drawings. “He might not be present, but he’ll never be forgotten,” McCluney said.