Russell County

Friends remember 21-year-old bandmate killed in New Year's Day head-on collision

Friends remember Thomas Estep, killed...

A 21-year-old is killed after a drunk driver hit his car head-on.

Now, a man is facing charges in his death.

Thomas was a member of Kaitlyn Baker's band... and one of her closest friends.

She tells me he texted her the same morning he was killed early on New Year's Day.

"The guitar just really called out to me. There's just something about it, you know, playing it, there's just so much room for articulation," Estep said in November.

He was a guitarist for Kaitlyn Baker, and they recently traveled around the country together.

Including playing at a fundraiser for Gatlinburg wildfire victims.

"There was many times we were out on the road he would just randomly stop at different various places and help out homeless people and give them money that he honestly probably really didn't have," Baker said.

The two had New Year's Eve plans to travel to Abingdon.

She decided not to go, and when Thomas was driving back to Norton, his life was tragically cut short.

Police say Estep was driving northbound on route 19 near Hansonville just before 2:30 in the morning.

They say that's when Dale Donnells was driving the wrong way and collided into Estep's car.

He's been charged with DUI and aggravated involuntary manslaughter.

"Don't let people you care go out the door. It doesn't matter if they're buzzed or they're drunk even if you're texting or anything like that. If you don't care about your own life care about how it's gonna affect others," band member Aaron Lee said.

"It's been very hard very confusing trying to make sense of it but i guess he's needed elsewhere," Lee said.

They both tell me Thomas's spirit will live on in their music.

"Just be careful because you don't get a redo and we don't get a friend back," he said.

"He impacted my life so greatly that you'll never forget that person," Baker said,

Police tell us Thomas was wearing his seat belt.

Kaitlyn says they have a show coming up at the end of the month.

She tells us she still plans on performing, because it's what Thomas would want.
 


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