According to Public Opinion Online, Carter Brown was not all about going to a high school prom, but he was still excited to go because it would make his girlfriend, Kaylee Suders, happy.
That’s why Carter’s dad, Robert Brown, stepped in to take Suders to her senior prom after Carter died in a car crash a month before James Buchanan High School’s big dance. He knew his youngest son would still want Suders to go.
“I think that my husband is incredible. He is just a loving and giving human. He’s truly amazing, he is a gift,” said Kelly Brown, Carter’s mom, and Robert’s wife. “I know that Carter was in college, he wasn’t super excited about going to a high school prom, but he was excited about doing that for Kaylee…so Rob didn’t like the idea of Kaylee not getting that.”
Carter, 19 and a 2017 graduate of James Buchanan, was pronounced dead the morning of April 15 at the scene of a three-vehicle crash in Huntingdon. Driving a Honda Civic at about 7:35 a.m. on Pa. 22, he had crossed into the opposing lane of traffic and hit the rear driver’s side of one car before colliding head-on with another car, according to the Centre Daily Times.
After staying up much of the night before, Carter had been traveling from Indiana State University, where he was a freshman studying culinary arts, to surprise Suders, her mom, Christina Nicholas, said. As she was waiting for him to arrive, Suders grew concerned and said he should have been there already. When Nicholas proposed he got stuck in traffic or got pulled over, Suders insisted he still should have been there by then.
Soon after, Kelly Brown called to share she had received the call every parent hopes they never get.
That was a Sunday. By the end of the week, Robert Brown got to thinking that Suders deserved to experience her senior prom, that Carter would not want her to miss it, and that he would be the one to take her. By Monday, just over a week since Carter’s death, he called the school’s principal, Rod Benedick, to get his attendance at the prom approved.
“It meant a lot that he kind of stepped up and took the role because it was my senior prom and I didn’t want to go anymore,” Suders said.
Getting ready for the prom was a family affair. Suders has been staying at the Browns’ home most days since Carter died, even sleeping in his room, so most of the prom preparation happened there. Suders even went when Robert Brown got his tuxedo, her mom said.
“It was overwhelming,” Robert Brown said. “Just the experience of seeing her, in the days prior, getting ready – she seemed to be excited.”
“I think it’s really sweet and wonderful and says a lot about Kaylee’s relationship too, that she wanted to go with him,” Kelly Brown added. “It speaks to how much she is a part of our family and how much we love her.”
James Buchanan High School hosted its prom at Green Grove Gardens. Suders, Robert Brown, and several members of their families gathered for photos before they departed together in Carter’s beloved sports car, an Audi TT. They even went out for dinner beforehand at T.G.I. Friday’s, where Suders and Carter went on their first date.