One year later: Family and friends remember teen killed in hit & run

Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 4:35 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2022 at 7:32 AM EDT
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CRAVEN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - An Eastern Carolina community is still coping with grief after a teenager was killed and two others were seriously hurt in a hit-and-run last year.

One year ago, Michael “Brayden” Rivenbark, Cadence Nicholson and Cassidy Lewis were hit by a car along the U.S. 70 Service Road outside of New Bern.

Three teens hit by car in Craven County
Three teens hit by car in Craven County(April Nicholson, Danielle Green, Christy Turbeville)

Cadence Nicholson said Lewis was at her house when Rivenbark was invited over. As he walked towards Nicholson’s home the unimaginable happened.

Two teens seriously injured in hit and run
Two teens seriously injured in hit and run(Danielle Green)

Troopers say Sean Teague hit and killed Rivenbark,14, of New Bern. They say 14-year-old Cadence Nicholson, also from New Bern, was flown to Vidant Medical Center with critical injuries and 13-year-old Lewis from New Bern was taken to CarolinaEast for serious injuries.

Unlike other teenagers, Cadence Nicholson isn’t focused on high school sports, prom, or even good grades these days. All those things are put second when you’re going through physical therapy to regain the life you once had.

“I didn’t really get to live my life as a child,” Nicholson explained. ”I mean, I’m going through injuries that no child should be able to go through.”

Nicholson in hospital suffering serious injuries
Nicholson in hospital suffering serious injuries(April Nicholson)

April Nicholson, Cadence’s mom, expressed the severity of her daughter’s injuries.

“She suffered a fractured jaw, her two front teeth were ripped completely out, she broke her sternum, fractured 15 ribs,” April Nicholson said.

While her body is much stronger these days, Cadence Nicholson’s heart is only beginning to heal.

“I didn’t think he was gone... and then it started to kick in and I started to realize he’s not here anymore,” Cadence Nicholson said of Rivenbark’s death.

Rivenbark, Cadence Nicholson’s boyfriend, was killed on impact. A final embrace was her last memory before the crash.

Rivenbark’s mother, Christy Turbeville, finds herself thinking of what her son’s future could have been.

“He got shortened of his life. He will never get married, he will never have kids and he would have been the best dad,” Turbeville said.

Troopers said that Sean Teague, 52, was behind the wheel that night and that he didn’t stop to help the teens.

“He didn’t know that Brayden was dead, he didn’t know nothing, he didn’t even try to see,” Turbeville said.

The life of a funny outdoorsman who loved his family turned into a memory that day.

Teen killed in hit and run
Teen killed in hit and run(Christy Turbeville)

Still, Rivenbark’s mom finds comfort in knowing her son is watching over from above.

“I’ve got to do right and stay strong for his little brother and for him because that’s what he would want, but nothing makes it easy,” Turbeville said.

Last year’s crime scene is now a memorial that stands as a reminder of the tragedy that turned strangers into family.

As Cadence Nicholson continues to make strides in her recovery, Turbeville reflects on what she meant to her son.

Teague, of New Bern, has been charged with one count of felony hit and run involving death and two counts of felony hit and run involving serious injury. He is jailed in Craven County under a $300,000 bond.

The district attorney says his office, the Highway Patrol, and Alcohol Law Enforcement agents are actively investigating the case to this day.

Man charged with one count of felony hit and run involving death and two counts of felony hit...
Man charged with one count of felony hit and run involving death and two counts of felony hit and run involving serious injury.(Craven County Sheriffs' Office)

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