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Fundraiser for accident victim this weekend

For accident victim Ray Shourds, things are looking better — and a fundraiser planned for this weekend could help him even more.

Shourds and his girlfriend appealed to the public for help in March as they were about to lose their home because of financial fallout from a tragic accident in July 2007.

“Things are looking better,” Shourds said Wednesday. “We had quite a few people come forward and help out.”

Shourds risked his life to pull a young boy from the fiery crash on U.S. Route 58. On July 24, 2007, Shourds and his assistant in his core-drilling business were returning from a project in Chesapeake. As the drill rig approached the Pitchkettle exit on U.S. Route 58, Shourds noticed an airborne car coming at the rig from across the median. The car slammed into the front of the drill rig, sending the two vehicles careening toward the tree line and bursting into flames.

After Shourds pulled his assistant from the wreckage, he helped pull a boy from the other car before the fire overcame rescue attempts. The boy died at a hospital the next day. Five more victims died inside the car.

After the accident, Shourds was out of work for eight months, and still suffers from a permanent back injury. He burned through substantial savings and sold several pieces of equipment to keep personal and business bills paid. His insurance company sent him to trial to sue the dead family’s estate, and then his insurance would pay when it was determined their estate couldn’t. A Suffolk jury awarded only $30,000 — about one-fifth of what Shourds says he needed to recover what he lost.

Shourds was in danger of foreclosure — and still is. After the public appeal, he received about $8,000 in donations from people who simply sent donations, or gave money in exchange for baked goods prepared by Shourds’ girlfriend.

Shourds said the money was a big help with his mortgage.

“It didn’t get me out of the woods, because of course I owed them a good bit more than that,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll raise the money this weekend and they’ll work with me.”

This weekend’s event begins Sunday at 9 a.m. at the Thunderbird Grill, 201 Battery Park Road, Smithfield. Breakfast will be served, and a motorcycle ride will leave at 11 a.m. to ride to Knucklehead’s Roadhouse, 401 N. Witchduck Road, Virginia Beach. There, a live auction will be held. The motorcycle ride costs $10 per rider and $5 per passenger.

The fundraiser was organized by Linda Steen, who lives in Virginia Beach and contacted Shourds upon hearing of his plight.

“They really seem to be very nice people,” Steen said. “I saw it on television when it first happened. I told my husband, ‘I’ve got to help them do something.’”

Pre-registration for the ride is not needed, so participants can register the morning of the event at the Thunderbird Grill.

To help Ray Shourds, send checks to 3413 Manning Road, Suffolk, VA 23434. To contact him, call 651-1433. For more information, visit www.rayshourds.weebly.com.