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DWI suspect in deadly golf cart crash denied bond reduction

Austin Ray Harmon is facing multiple charges for a deadly head-on crash that killed three people, including two children, near Statesville in June.

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — The suspect charged in an Iredell County crash involving a golf car that killed three people in June faced a judge Thursday afternoon and was denied a bond reduction. 

Austin Ray Harmon was charged with DWI, two counts of felony death by vehicle and three counts of felony serious injury by vehicle in connection with a crash on Fort Dobbs Road on June 13. State troopers said Harmon's Honda Accord crossed the center line and hit a golf cart head-on, killing two people and injuring several others. 

The crash killed 5-year-old Bentley Marlowe and his father, Michael Shane Marlowe. Days later, 13-year-old Jada Marlowe died from her injuries. Three other passengers on the golf cart were seriously injured. 

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Teagan Murphy, a 16-year-old that was one of those survivors, received a warm welcome home after spending days in the hospital.

"At our school the way we see it our students aren’t our students for that moment in time, they’re our students and kids forever so we, of course, are here to support Teagan and her entire family,” Kim Smith, one of Teagan's former teachers, said.

On Thursday, tensions were high at the Iredell County Hall of Justice. Harmon's lawyer asked for a reduction in his bond. The judge called the circumstances tragic for everyone involved. In the end, he denied the bond's reduction.

“It’s very relieving, we do feel that justice is being served, there’s been a lot of hurt and a lot of emotions with this, we’re glad he’s not out and able to drink and drive and hurt another family in the meantime," Savannah Boltz, Jada’s Marlowe's mother, said. 

For the families who lost their loved ones, it was a soul-crushing accident. 

“That’s a very un-describable day," Boltz said. 

It's a day that was still felt outside of the courthouse. 

“Day by day struggle honestly, it’s called the afterlife,” Boltz said. 

Boltz described her daughter. 

“Lively girl, she always kept a smile on her face, she was the most positive ray of sunshine, blonde hair, blue eyes for days!” Boltz said.

While nothing can take away this mother's pain, she was glad Harmon's bond wasn't reduced and hope justice continues to be served. 

If you would like to help the families of the victims, you can attend the MX3 Wheels and Warriors Car Show and Benefit, Saturday, Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The money goes towards the Marlowe, Mills, and Murphy families. 

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