Eddings family shares story of loss, forgiveness at Coastal Hori - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Eddings family shares story of loss, forgiveness at Coastal Horizons

The Eddings spokes about forgiveness during Coastal Horizons Center's annual luncheon. (Source: WECT) The Eddings spokes about forgiveness during Coastal Horizons Center's annual luncheon. (Source: WECT)
The Eddings family. (Source: WBTV) The Eddings family. (Source: WBTV)

A Charlotte family who lost their two sons in a car accident in Pender County two years ago spoke about forgiveness at Coastal Horizons Center's annual luncheon.

The theme of this year's luncheon was Finding Humanity Behind the Headlines, and the Eddings family has been in the headlines often since 2015.

In May 2015, Gentry and Hadley Eddings were returning from a wedding when they were hit by a commercial box truck at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sloop Road. The crash killed their 2-year-old son, Dobbs, who was secured in his car seat in the backseat.

Hadley and Gentry, a pastor from Charlotte, survived the crash. Hadley was eight months pregnant at the time of the accident. She gave birth to her son, Reed, via emergency C-section. Reed died three days later in the hospital.

The driver of the box truck, Matthew Deans, had acetyl fentanyl, fentanyl, and marijuana in his system. According to employees at Coastal Horizons substance abuse facility in Wilmington, fentanyl is about 80 times stronger than morphine.

The Eddings' lives changed in an instant, but due to their strong faith, they were able to forgive Deans almost instantly. 

District Attorney Ben David read what Gentry and Hadley said to Deans in court before the Eddings spoke at the luncheon Thursday. 

"From the day that this happened, I’ve been very concerned about you," Hadley said. "While losing my children has been the most devastating thing of my entire life, I know without a doubt that they’re in heaven. And they are whole. And they are perfect. So I look at you and I say, ‘I want you to have that too.’ I knew you did not intend for this to happen. I know you didn’t do it on purpose. I know mistakes happen and accidents happen and we make poor choices. I just want you to know that I forgive you. I want you to be rehabilitated. I want you to have a good life. I don’t want this to be the end for you. I want you to make something of yourself."

Gentry Eddings said: "It would bring us joy to hear that you’re doing well in the future. We want to know a Matthew Dean that is free from addiction and who is doing well with his life, so we’ll be praying for you. We love you. God bless you."   

On Thursday, the Eddings spoke of forgiveness to the hundreds of people attending the Coastal Horizons Center. Coastal Horizons has played an instrumental role in fighting the opioid epidemic, something the Eddings know can impact anyone. 

"We're here to encourage the people of Coastal Horizons," Gentry said. "There's a great team of people who care for people walking through so many heartbreaking situations and whether they're counseling or just providing care, we just want to encourage them that their work is good, and redemptive and God can do amazing things through them. He's worked redemption in our story and he can turn things that are broken into something wonderful." 

After the loss of their children, the Eddings were able to use money donated from Go Fund Me pages to help open a school in Haiti. The school, The Dobbs and Reed Eddings School, educates and feeds around 500 children. 

They found out they were expecting again last November, and to their surprise, it was twins. 

Hadley gave birth to two baby boys, Isiah and Amos, in July. 

"It is a lot of fun. It is busy, and it's a lot of work, but it's good, and they're beautiful," Gentry said.

"They are," Hadley agreed. "Sweet, easygoing, great little boys."

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