Friends finish truck for parents of man who died

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2011

By Joanie Morris
For the Salisbury Post
CHINA GROVE — When Jonathan Efird died two years ago as the result of burns sustained in a bonfire accident, he left one thing undone.
Now, his parents can say it’s done.
Efird, 21, had purchased an old Toyota truck with intentions of turning it into a rock crawling truck — a sport he was avid about and which many people call “wheelin’ “ with vehicles that look more like monster trucks than road trucks.
He told his parents that fateful Friday that the coming Monday, he was going to work on his new truck. That Monday never came for Efird, as his parents prepared to bury him later that week.
Friends were just as important to Efird as the truck, so it was only fitting that when his friends approached his parents, Dennis and Kay Efird, about finishing what Jonathan had started just before he died. Dennis and Kay approved, and the result is something they don’t think they’ll ever forget.
What was an old ‘86 Toyota Turbo truck and some really big tires purchased by Jonathan before he died turned into a monster of a truck with tires more than 1 feet wide and more than 3 feet tall with five-point harness safety belts inside, a roll cage, massive fuel tank and a beautiful motor. On the side, emblazoned on a chrome plate, is “Toyota Turbo Efird.”
Most of what was done to the truck are terms his parents can’t even remember, but what they think of the truck is another matter entirely.
“It made us feel good that they wanted to do that for Jonathan,” Kay said. “They spent a lot of time on that truck.”
“A lot of hours,” echoed Dennis, gazing at the massive black truck sitting in their drive. Saturday, they had a garage built for the truck. While they don’t normally “wheel,” Dennis said Jonathan’s friends vowed to come and get him for some rock crawling at different places.
Kay and Dennis said Jonathan’s friends — 15 friends in all, helping to rebuild the truck — would not take any money from them for the restoration, instead relying on volunteers to help on various parts of the truck and raising money through rock crawls.
In February 2010, the group announced at a rock crawl in Taylorsville that they were raising money to rebuild the truck. They sold shirts, decals and more to help offset the cost of the work, and money from the gate also went to the crew.
Dennis said the story’s not about Jonathan. It’s about his friends.
“This is just a good group of guys,” Dennis said, tears in his eyes thinking about what they did in his son’s memory. “This is how they have fun. …
“What they’ve done is truly remarkable,” Dennis added with a hitch in his words.
“We were truly touched that his friends would spend the time,” Kay said, placing a hand on her husband’s arm.
The two said they are doing better since that night barely two years ago when they found out that their only son had died.
“We have our moments …” Dennis said.
“But I think we do very well,” finished Kay.
Kay added that it’s their trust and faith in God that gives them strength and courage when they get down.
Having Jonathan’s friends keep in touch, visit and make phones calls has made it that much easier to bear. They don’t blame anyone for what happened at the bonfire that night — an accelerant was accidentally thrown on the fire, and the resulting explosion burned Jonathan — instead concentrating on the good in Jonathan’s life, which included his friends.
“They’ve kept (the relationship) going for us,” Kay said. “They call, come by.”
Of course, some of the guys have gotten married and moved on, but most of them live close by, so it’s only a matter of stopping their truck if they see Kay or Dennis outside. And they vowed to Dennis to keep coming by.
“We’re going to go rock crawling some more, they say,” Dennis said with a smile and a far-off look, remembering some rock crawl events he attended with Jonathan or a moment when Jonathan was working on another truck.
That’s what keeps his memory alive after all, Kay said. Enjoying what Jonathan enjoyed and remembering the good times.
Joanie Morris is a freelance writer. She can be reached at 704-797-4248.