Halloween is revered for its frightful nature, but a group of teenagers received the scare of their life on October 31, 2015, when a drunk driver crossed the center line on Solley Road and collided head-on with their vehicle.
“We were heading to a Halloween party,” recalled Dylan Dovel, one of five friends in the car that was hit. “It was a good night, a good day. Then someone came into our lane and hit us hard. It was life-changing.”
Dovel, Nicholas Quigley, Ryan Caines and Christopher Dumsha were rushed to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center and later released. Their friend and driver, Josh Pack, did not survive. Neither did the drunk driver who steered into Pack’s Nissan Maxima.
“My daughter had just come home from Fright Night and said there was a bad accident. We had to get to the hospital,” said Ann Pack, Josh’s mom. “My husband and I called all over the county and the city, and there was no information about anyone involved in accidents. It never dawned on me he was still at the scene, so I just assumed he was still alive.”
Three years later, Josh’s friends and their families are raising money for a memorial bench they want installed in front of Northeast High School.
“Everybody loved Josh, from the nerds to the jocks to the band people,” Dovel said. “He didn’t judge anybody. He loved people for who they were and he was a guy everyone could talk to.”
Pack played football and enjoyed playing video games like “Madden” and “Call of Duty.” His mom remembers him as a “quiet, gentle spirit” and a happy kid. “Josh was the kind of son who would take my shoes off and rub my feet,” she said.
Amanda Mabrey, Dovel’s mom, remembers Josh for his smile.
“He lit up a room with that million-dollar smile,” she said. “He was a part of our lives since he was 7 years old. He was Dylan’s best friend. I promised my son one day we would do something in Josh’s honor.”
The bench will keep Josh’s name alive, Dovel said. The families want it to feature a picture of Josh along with the names of his friends who were in the car that Halloween night.
“Having a bench in front of our old school, and Josh’s little sister graduated from there and his brother, and it’s for the future students too,” Dovel said. “We thought the bench would forever hold his name and be the focal point when you walk into Northeast.”
Ann said that when Josh died, his friends consoled the Pack family. They attended Josh’s sister’s graduation and surprised her at prom.
“When Josh passed, it was like a bond started between families, especially between the moms,” Ann said. “Josh brought so many people together.”
But Dovel emphasized it was the Pack family that helped everyone else after the tragedy.
“The Pack family is close-knit and gave us the strength through the hard times, even though they lost Josh,” he said. “They are accepting of everyone, whether you’re Spanish, black, white — it doesn’t matter.”
Mabrey said, “The next day Joshua’s brother came down to check on our son to see how he was doing, even though he had just lost his only brother the night before. The Pack family lost the ultimate (their son) but continued to be there for the rest of us [with] constant phone calls, emails, etc.”
The families have a $5,000 goal and have started a crowdfunding campaign at www.gofundme.com/josh-packs-memorial-bench. Mabrey said the families of Josh’s friends will cover whatever expenses are not covered.
“Just honoring the kids and the message of not drinking and driving or getting into the car with someone who’s drinking — I was speechless when [Mabrey] told me what she wanted to do,” Ann said. “It really touched my heart. I’m grateful my son is still being remembered and not just by his family.”