These friends were killed. Now their parents are speaking out.

Posted at 8:41 PM, Aug 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-22 09:13:38-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Two Chesterfield County families united first by friendship and then tragedy are joining with the Chesterfield County Police Department for a campaign they hope will prevent others from experiencing what they have.

"If we can save somebody or make them think twice, then that's a positive that comes from us," said Jennifer Booth, mother of Nick Booth.

Nick Booth and his friend, Will Hammitt, died in a car crash in April on Old Gun Road West. Police said speed was a factor. The families said the James River High School seniors had just left a lacrosse team event prior to the crash.

"That was horrible," said Hammitt's mom, Rebekah, of that night. "I mean, it's, you know, like everyone says it's, a parent's worst nightmare."

The families want to prevent other parents from going through that nightmare by featuring their sons' stories in the Chesterfield County Police Department's "In Memory Of" campaign, which features people who have lost their lives to the four main causes of deadly crashes: speed, driving under the influence, and not wearing a seatbelt.

Police said in the 14 fatal crashes this year, excessive speed was a factor in nine of them.

"I don't think it applies just to young drivers. I think it applies to everybody," Jennifer said. "I'm sure we've all gotten in the car when we maybe shouldn't have or been distracted or whatever. And just remembering that decisions that you make have consequences, you know, and it's just thinking about what you're doing when you get in the car and maybe changing your mind."

While in years past, police have put up billboards, this year they will be handing out pamphlets with Nick and Will's photo and story on them and a warning to other drivers.

Nick Booth

Nick's parents, David and Jennifer, said their son was the "happiest kid ever".

"Nick was a truly special kid. He was loved by adults, children, teachers, coaches. And, unfortunately, we've come to realize how much he was beloved and how much he was respected by hearing too many stories about him after he's passed," David said. "He was truly a bright spot and not just in our lives."

They said he was a camp counselor with ACAC and was looking forward to one more summer of that before heading off to college.

"Impactful, I think, to all and just one of the happiest, kindest souls that you that you ever wanted to meet," said Jennifer. "He was just, always, just a happy kid, you know, and just really looking forward to the rest of his life."

Will Hammitt

Will's parents, Craig and Rebekah, said their son was amazing, smart, and funny.

"One of the things I think I've seen most in just notes and cards that we've gotten, was how funny he was how much he made people laugh and he had a very dry sense of humor," said Rebekah. "But, he was smart. He was sweet. He loved kids. He was really good with kids. He was one of the favorite babysitters in our neighborhood."

They said Will was also a camp counselor at ACAC and intended to take a postgraduate year in Connecticut.

"He was excited because it was cold and he was going to get to ski a lot. And he's going to get to play three seasons of sports and just have a new experience," she added. "He really wanted to go to James Madison University."


The families said the two met in the 8th grade when they played football together and the pair bonded over a love of sports and the outdoors.

"They love to camp in the summer with their friends. They love to snowboard and ski in the wintertime," said Rebekah.

The photo the two teens used in the pamphlet is of a snowboarding trip they took this past winter to celebrate Nick's 18th birthday.

"And they had an awesome time. I mean, they, they snowboarded for what -- 12 hours a day, four days in a row," said Jennifer. "They're such a fun group of young men and that is a time that I am thankful that we had with them because a lot of the memories that we have are from that weekend."

Message to the Community

As for their involvement with the new campaign, both families hope that their story can serve as a reminder to other drivers, young and old, to make smart choices behind the wheel.

"If one kid can look at that card and think to himself, 'Maybe I ought to be smarter with my decisions', and it saves his life, then it's worth us telling our story and doing what we're doing here today," said David.

"It's about making smart decisions when you get in a car and, I think, understanding that a car can be a weapon," added Jennifer. "And the choices that you make can determine what happens with that weapon. And that we don't want other families to be in this really awful club that we're in. And the last thing you want to do is to have all your stories about your child being in the past tense."

"It's just not worth it. Trust me, you know. I wouldn't wish this on anybody. And if we can stop somebody from experiencing what we're experiencing, this is worth it," said Craig. "100 times over."

"It can take your life, it can take the life of your best friend, and it can ruin other people's lives," said Rebekah. "Your family, your friends, the kids that you're a camp counselor for. Like, you aren't thinking about all the people that you love and impact every day until you're gone and your family and friends are hearing all these things and it's just it's not worth it to get there a few minutes early."

Depend on CBS 6 News and for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

SHARE on social media to SPREAD the WORD!

EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews



Watch 'The Jennifer Hudson Show' weekdays at 3 p.m. on CBS 6!

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.