It was a one-vehicle crash that took the lives of two teenagers Christmas night nearly three years ago.
Josiah Abbott, 15-years-old, and Morgan Martin, 14, were passengers inside a friend’s truck that rolled on Papago Road in Thunderbird Farms.
In early May, the driver of the vehicle pleaded guilty to two counts of negligent homicide. William Gay, 25, was sentenced to 2.5 years in the Department of Corrections for each count when he appeared in a Pinal County Superior courtroom on June 12.
According to the plea agreement supplied by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, the two imprisonment terms will “run concurrently with each other.”
Josiah’s older sister, Shell Abbott, said no amount of prison time would heal the pain caused by her brother’s death.
“The whole family had pretty much come to a consensus that some time or no time wouldn’t change the outcome of our hearts and how much we miss him and how much we think of Morgan,” Abbott said. “It wasn’t going to change that.”
Abbott said Josiah was charismatic and enjoyed making the women and girls in his life know they matter.
“Josiah had a way about making women feel special, and you could be 92 or you could be 3,” she said.
The loss of Josiah and the emotional support he provided, she said, is comparable to the sensation of a phantom limb that has been amputated.
“You know it doesn’t exist, but in your brain it really does. You can still move it, but you can’t put weight on it because it’s not there,” Shell said.
Abbott said she is reminded every day she cannot lean on her brother. His young life was taken along with another’s from an accident caused by Gay — a friend of the family whom they refer to as “Bubba.”
“I think that’s the hardest part because Bubba will be able to get back out, and for him he’s not missing a limb,” Shell said.
Gay was a roommate in Abbott’s home at the time of Josiah and Morgan’s death. Abbott said she felt Gay did not take responsibility for the families’ losses. Additionally, she said Gay did not apologize to her. After a while, because of Gay’s behavior, she told him he needed to leave.
“Even through everything that Bubba’s done, we don’t hate him,” she said. “There is hurt, but I also understand that Bubba, whether he addresses it or not, is also hurting because Josiah was his friend – a very close friend.”
Gay taught Josiah about cars, Abbott said, and because Gay had a driver’s license and Josiah did not, the friends drove around together frequently.
Shell Abbott said her mother, Ranelle Abbott, requested in court that Gay receive counseling.
“I think that’s the only reason why him being in prison is actually a good thing, … the fact that it will give him a lot of time to think,” Shell Abbott said.
Even as a young child, Josiah was bright and had entrepreneurial tendencies, she said. At 4 years old, he began a small frog farm. In buckets, he placed tadpoles at varying points in development. By age 9, Josiah switched from frogs to chickens, and he made business cards to promote the eggs he sold.
Josiah would be 18-years-old now, and Shell Abbott said it saddens her to think of what he could have accomplished.
“There was no doubt in my mind that when he grew up he was going to own his own business and he was going to be able to do the job, whatever it was,” Abbott said. “Because of his charisma with people, there wasn’t a thing that he wouldn’t have been able to do in his life.”