A growing memorial sits at the corner of Fort Apache Rd.and Arby Ave. Balloons, flowers, and cards pay tribute to 12-year-old Jonny Smith, a Faiss Middle School student who police say was hit and killed when he ran across Fort Apache, outside of a marked crosswalk.
“He just had a sparkle in his eye, his personality was magnetic,“ shared Joshua Donaugh. Donaugh’s two sons were close friends of Jonny.
“It starts to get a little harder because the tough questions start to come, ‘Why am I not gonna see my friend anymore?’“ Those questions asked of Donaugh by his sons, Dexter and Nixxin. Dexter and Jonny were close friends since kindergarten.
“Our first eye contact like once an electron sees its atom… it stays there,“ recalled Dexter of first meeting his friend. “Like such a close bond. We were a perfect fit. Personalities interlocked.“
Despite being half his age, 6-year-old Nixxin shared a strong bond with Jonny too. “He’s like a big brother to me,“ shared Nixxin, fighting off tears. “He feels like he’s like Dexter.“
The three boys were part of an even larger friend group—one that shared first days at school, Halloween traditions, and countless sleepovers.
“It’s like you have several pieces of clay and you all mend them and it becomes one big clay ball,“ shared Dexter of his friend group.
“It was really a beautiful sight to see, the bond that these young kids had,“ added Donaugh.
The Donaugh family described Jonny as a natural leader, loved school and sports—especially karate. But what Jonny loved most of all, perhaps, were his friends..
“His memory will power us on for a very long time,“ expressed Dexter.
Just as 12-year-old Jonny loved his friends, it’s clear—they love him dearly, too.
“It broke my heart when he got hurt in my life,“ said Nixxin, through tears. “It just really broke my heart.“
A Gofundme page has been set up to help Jonny Smith’s family through the difficult time.
Family and friends will host a vigil for Jonny at Wilbur & Theresa Faiss Park located at 7025 S. Fort Apache Road on Wednesday, March 27 at 6:30 p.m.