After his 2 young sons are killed by a distracted driver, worship leader says: 'God has our boys in a place of peace'

by Kelly Ledbetter, |

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Christian Examiner) -- Gentry and Hadley Eddings were driving home from Gentry's sister's wedding on an early summer day when a six-wheel box truck rear-ended their vehicles, killing their 2-year-old son Dobbs.

Hadley, then eight months pregnant, was taken to a hospital where she delivered their infant son Reed by emergency Caesarian section. Reed died of his injuries three days later.

Yet Gentry, a pastor at Forest Hill Church -- a 6,000-member church across four campuses -- said he forgave Matthew Deans, the distracted driver of the truck, while he was still at the hospital being treated for his injuries.

"God has our boys in a place of peace, so I am in a place of peace," Gentry told local news. "God has a plan. The situation is a frustrating one. We don't want to be here. We don't like it. This is not a fun situation. We're mad at the loss. But we know God is good and has a plan and we believe that."

Hadley said she is grieving deeply but trusts that God has a reason for her survival. "The only thing I can think of is that if God left us here, he must just not be finished with us. That's the only thing I can think."

Though the couple, whose six-year anniversary fell on May 23 -- the day of the accident -- is still coming to terms with their new reality, they want their experience to glorify God. Gentry said, "I hate that this happened. I don't like it at all. But I can trust God even when it's really hard. I just trust it. I have to, I have to."

Deans has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle and failure to reduce speed.

A local trooper reported Deans was not under the influence of any substances but was driving distracted. He was unaware that the Eddings' vehicles had stopped until it was too late to react.

Hadley is able to see the situation from Deans' perspective. "Can you just imagine being the person who ran into the back of three cars and killed two sons?" she asks. "Can you just imagine the burden your heart would feel? I would be devastated."

The couple honored their sons' memories at a memorial service and continue to cherish the time they had together.

During the three days of Reed's life, Hadley said she and Gentry spent time holding their little one. "They put us in a private room and we were able to hold him and do some skin-on-skin time and I got to take a little nap with him, which was wonderful. Gentry did too. We just sat and held him."

Gentry recalls their toddler's exuberance. "In the mornings we would still be asleep and we'd hear Dobbs at his little gate at the door," the father remembers. "He'd be going, 'Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!' He just loved life. He wanted to be a part of everything."

These parents know that their lives are in God's hands. "Both of our sons died," Hadley said. "I don't want that to be in vain. If I have an opportunity to share their story and talk about their lives, I want to do so."

The couple's medical bills needs have been met through a GoFundMe page overseen by their friends. Those who still want to help financially should consider a donation to Mission of Hope Haiti, a project where the Eddings recently served.

The couple says they will wait on God's instruction before they make a decision about having more children.

For now, they will have to face a house they describe as "quieter."