NEW TOWN — Christopher King’s favorite hoodie still hangs on the coat rack by the front door.
“I haven’t removed it because, well, it feels like he still might walk through the door at any moment,” his mother, Christy King, said.
It was just last year, Chris died in a car accident on July 4. He and three other friends were leaving a party down by College Creek, past the Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport. They were riding in a 2012 Ford Mustang convertible with the top down. The driver of the vehicle, Rafael Osmon, 20, was not the owner of the vehicle, and was driving at a dangerously high speed.
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Chris was the only fatality of that accident because he was not wearing his seatbelt.
The driver of the vehicle, Rafael Osmon, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on June 9 for multiple charges, including involuntary manslaughter and failure to report an injury in a vehicle accident after he fled the scene. He turned himself into police on Oct. 20, 2020.
Since that fateful night, King has not stopped thinking about her son. The youngest of three boys, Chris had just graduated from Jamestown High School with plans to either become an EMT or even a chef. Chris has two older brothers, Zach and Alex.
According to his mother, Chris loved dogs despite having an allergy to them. When his neighbors were out of the house, Chris would run next door to look after his neighbor’s dog, Ollie, who he affectionately called Babycakes. The King family had just gotten a hypoallergenic dog of their own several months before Chris’s passing.
For activities, Chris was a frequent face at Ironbound Gym, where he had been a member for several years, practicing weight lifting. He also participated in the youth group at Crosswalk Church and briefly worked at Regal Cinema in New Town.
“It’s just been a horrible experience all around,” King said. “Sometimes I’ll be at home and hear a noise and think for a second it’s him somewhere in the house.”
Throughout the entire grieving process, the King family has had unwavering amounts of support from friends and neighbors. One friend started King’s Angels, an initiative to provide flowers, cooked meals, and other small gifts of comfort to the family.
King herself has picked up a few hobbies to help process her grief. Through the pandemic, she has been painting furniture. “Whenever I find myself getting sad, I just put on some music, open a can of paint and just paint for a few hours. It’s been very soothing.”
This continuous cycle of act and react has become King’s new normal for the past year – actively working through her grief. Back in April, for Chris’s birthday, she organized an event at Blaze Pizza to raise $1,500 for Drive Safe Hampton Roads.
To commemorate the one year anniversary of her son’s death, King is teaming up again with Drive Safe Hampton Roads and dozens of businesses in New Town to bring a free event to the area.
“Cruise-In and Curls for Chris” is dedicated to helping prevent other families from experiencing the same loss while also supporting Chris’s memory. Dozens of businesses around New Town have pitched in to provide prizes for a silent auction, which will raise proceeds for Drive Safe Hampton Roads.
Live music will be provided by Lane Rice & Co. James City County Police will have several trucks out for display along with classic cars from the Virginia Peninsula Car Club Council. Ironbound Gym will also be holding a contest to see how many bicep curls can be done in Chris’s honor.
“If we can still do something to inform the public to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen to another family, then great,” King said. “When you get behind the wheel of a car, you take other’s lives into your hands.”
Cruise-In and Curls for Chris will take place on Saturday, July 3 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Regal Cinema Parking Lot at 4911 Courthouse Street. All proceeds from the silent auction will go towards Drive Safe Hampton Roads.
For more information on Cruise-In and Curls for Chris, contact Christy King at email@example.com.