HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - There is nothing stronger than a mother's love. "There are no words for the pain of losing a child and a grandchild," says Shellie Kioutas, Alexa Hannig's mother.
Which makes Shellie's loss, unimaginable.
Her daughter Alexa, grandson Hayden Martella, along with Alexa's boyfriend Benjamin Johnson, were killed when a drunk driver, going the wrong way down I-565, hit them head on Thursday morning.
Somehow, through tremendous pain, Shellie has found hope. "The love and support that the community has shown us is amazing. And I've heard people say that and I've never understood how it can make a difference but it does," she says.
Dozens of loved ones gathered at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, just steps away from the crash site, to remember and reflect. Ben's older sisters have been touched by those who shared stories with them. "Different little things and it's like we get another little piece of them, another little piece of Hayden, another little piece of Ben or Alexa. It's really special," says Britney Morris, Ben's oldest sister.
Like candles in the darkness, Ben's sisters say he lit up their world. "Ben was the best of us, he was the youngest and by far, had the biggest heart," says Rebekah Shelton, Ben's other sister. "He was just life, he was light, he was life, he would not walk into a room and it not light up," says Morris.
So now, even as these two families go through some of their darkest days, they are comforted to know, they don't walk through this grief alone. "Knowing that my baby and my baby's baby touched so many people and made such a difference and that that many people loved her as much as I loved her and loved him as much as I loved him and as many people who loved Ben who we loved as well deeply, is so touching," says Kioutas.
"It's so comforting just to see all these people who loved and cared about them, theta they touched so many," says Morris.
Alexa's mother says they will hold a celebration of life for her daughter and grandson this Tuesday from 5 until 8 at The Depot in Downtown Huntsville. Alexa's mom asks that people not wear black, but happy colors because the two were so full of life. There will be music and an opportunity for loved ones to share stories about their lives.
Ben's relatives tell us his funeral is set for Monday. There will be an open viewing from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. at Berryhill Funeral Home, followed by a private service.
GoFundMe Accounts have been set up for Alexa and Ben's families:
Alexa and Hayden's GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/94468y78
Ben's GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/2574c44
Hyde Homes has also set up a fund at BancorpSouth for anyone wishing to make donations for Alexa and Hayden. The money will be given to Alexa's family for funeral expenses. If you wish to make a donation you may do so at any BancorpSouth location or stop by Hyde Homes, located at 2101 Governors Drive. The account is under "Hyde Homes for Alexa Hannig and Hayden Martella". Checks will need to be made out to Hyde Homes and in the memo please write for Alexa Hannig and Hayden Martella.