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'He was one of a kind' : Family of Laurens County teen devastated after fatal accident


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LAURENS COUNTY, Ga.-- The family of a Laurens County teenager has been devastated since his tragic passing over the weekend.

A.J. McCullars was in a fatal accident on Sportsman Club Road in Laurens County while riding with a family friend in a Polaris. The teen and driver were ejected from the vehicle when it hit a tree.

His family tells WGXA he was a kind soul, creative, loved racing, and brought smiles to everyone's faces.

"A kind and loving kid. It's going to be different. It's going to be a lot different without him," says his father, Chris.

A.J. McCullars, and his brother Justin, were adopted by Chris and Lafonda McCullars when they were just five and six years old, after being in and out of their care for four years.

"We just fell in love with them. They just fit right in. They were ours from day one," says Lafonda.

A.J. was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome and Asperger's--but his disabilities didn't stop him from loving life.

His family says creativity came easy to him.

"He'd rather make it than buy it. You could give him a rubber band and a gem clip and he could create anything," says Lafonda.

A.J. loved updating his brothers, Jamie, Brent, and Justin on the latest things going on in Laurens County.

"He got a new key, he started a new job, he went to the racetrack, got a new trophy. He always had something new to yell in the background.," says Brent McCullars.

"He was always talking to people, he would say I got a new girlfriend," says Justin McCullars. "You got to love that, he was a lady's man," added Brent.

Jamie shared he was lucky enough to have A.J. come stay the weekend with him in Savannah the weekend before the accident.

"I fell asleep on the couch. Around 1 a.m., my wife came in and told me to come to bed. A.J. was there saying I better get up or he was going to get me. Of course I fell right back to sleep," he says. "I woke up a few hours later to him laughing and screaming, carrying on. I went to look in the bathroom mirror and of course there was Sharpie all over my face. He was sitting there laughing his butt off saying he warned me he was going to get me. "

A.J. didn't always have a big personality but once he was introduced to the Swainsboro racetrack, he became larger than life.

It would take him no time before being promoted to the Junior Chief of the Safety Crew.

"Those drivers just doing that little bit of time with him really touched him to bring him out to make him the loving and caring kid he is today," says Chris. "He was one of a kind in my opinion. I want to thank everyone who did something for him or touched him in any way. Thank you so much for everything you've done."

While people impacted A.J.'s life--he made it his mission to do the same for others.

"He was always happy, happy, happy. Trying to make other people laugh. Especially when he laughed because there is no way you couldn't laugh when he laughed," says Sara, his sister-in-law.

His father tells WGXA seeing the words of support from those that knew A.J. has been special.

Chris says he's proud of all of his kids--he wished he would have told A.J., who's known as his shadow, more often.

"People need to tell their kids or someone else you're proud of them. You need to tell them as much as you can before it's too late."

A.J. 's family adds they continue to pray for the driver involved in the tragic accident as he battles his injuries in a local hospital.

"I have no hard feelings towards Thomas. I love him, they are my family. I know Thomas didn't do anything to hurt that child. I want him to know that."

Visitation for the teen was held Wednesday.

His funeral will be Thursday.

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