Cynthia Carter

Human beings are astoundingly resilient, but the things we fill our world with make us frail.

I’m not one to post news items very much, but something happened Wednesday that moved my wife and me.

It started with my drive into work. I took one of my two routes, and where there are usually a moderate number of cars, I was met by standstill traffic and long lines at intersections. My 25-minute drive to work turned into 48 minutes. Needless to say, I was tardy.

After I’d been at work a while, a co-worker said that he had heard about a fatal wreck that shut down a major highway used by commuters headed to Dallas. I don’t drive into the city, but the route I take could be used as an alternate path for those who do. That explained my long wait.

I was glad I was safe and that my workplace didn’t get up in arms about the occasional late arrival. I also thought of how sad it was that the crash victim would never drive to work or anywhere else again.

At home, Shannon told me that as she and Ben headed across town that afternoon, she saw a horribly smashed and burned lump that resembled a car. Her heart sank because she knew there was no way anyone in that car survived. On the five o’clock news, the reporters said that the driver was 33 — Shannon’s age — and had three children.

The good news is that the children were not in the car at the time. Sadly, they no longer have a mother. She left behind them and a loving, brokenhearted husband who said, “She was simple. She went to work, she worked hard, she came home and she took care of us.”

She was not a celebrity, so her death will not be mourned by millions. She was a working mother on her way to her job, at an intersection I drive through on most of my morning commutes. A sand truck struck her car and dragged it 150 yards, where it burst into flame.

The Dallas Morning News posted a story online the day of the accident.
(link no longer works — sorry) – Read all of this to really get a feel for who she was and how much her family loved her. I almost held it together as I read Amani Carter’s words about his wife. (As a former journalist, this makes me glad I worked for a newspaper and not for television. Worth noting, however, is that TV reporters contributed to this story.)

A local television station showed the car on the tow truck, just as Shannon saw it. (link no longer works — sorry)

The Carters would have celebrated their 15th anniversary in August — the same month Shannon and I will celebrate ours. This story hits home on too many levels. I have no idea whether Cynthia Carter could have done anything to prevent this accident, and I would never deign to suggest it. However, I did implore Shannon to always look to the sides before trusting a greenlight.

Then I hugged her as she cried.

I can’t imagine what Amani Carter must be going through right now. Our hearts go out to him and his family.

66 thoughts on “Cynthia Carter

  1. I was (and still am) so haunted by this story, especially after seeing the remains of the car and then learning that she is my exact age and had been married the same month and year as us. It’s just heartbreaking.

  2. Wife – Sometimes I worry that driving defensively isn’t enough. But, what’s our alternative? Turning luddite, I guess. Or, Ahmish anyway.

    Simon – Yes, indeed.

  3. Once, travelling on the Beltway into Washington DC, a little red car passed us on the left. It appeared to be a black family of parents and three small children in the back. They were so cute, we waved and they waved back. I don’t know if you’ve ever driven/ridden that piece of highway but it is horrific- the amount of traffic, lanes and speeds. Sometime later we passed the accident which had left us sitting in an unmoving line of traffic for miles and for quite sometime. There was that little red car on it’s roof off at the edge of the road. I didn’t look, didn’t want to know…
    Let’s all be safe tomorrow and everyday after :-)

  4. Linda – That must have been awful. We’ve been on the beltway quite a bit. We lived in northern Virginia for about eight months (no, it was not for a clandestine pregnancy).

    Let’s all “be careful out there.”

  5. When there’s a senseless death like this… I often think….

    “God must have needed her in heaven to take care of some of the children there, knowing what a wonderful mother she is”…..

    It’s the only way it can make any sense to me…

  6. Wheww…I always hate to hear stories like that. As you know I drive close to 60K miles a year, so I drive as defensively as possible, because the percentages are always working against me. I see accidents all of the time, and it’s a constant reminder that every day really is special.

    Not long ago I was about to pull out of an intersection onto a highway. I looked both ways, and was only going to turn right into one lane. I looked left, right, and then left gain, which was really the only lane I was turning into. Then at the last second, I took a second look to the right and some BONEHEAD was pulling out to pass on the double yellow line. I have no idea why I looked again, because it wasn’t the lane I was turning into, but it was a harrowing experience. I would have turned head-on into a pickup truck going between 60 and 70 mph. I shuddered for a few miles wondering what in the world made me look a second time at traffic that shouldn’t have even affected me.

    I get cheesy “treasure each day” e-mails pretty frequently, and I usually read a sentence or two and delete them. But, the harsh reality is that we really don’t know when our time is up, and we should treasure each day.

  7. Charles – That’s a scary example. 60k a year? Sounds good as a salary, but not as a mileage driven.

    I’m treasuring each day more and more, especially with Ben growing up so fast (sure seemed slow while we were waiting for him to a) walk, and b) talk.

  8. Hey guys,
    I just happened across this. Ive known Cynthia for the past 3 years. I was her mentor teacher and helped her through her first year. She was a one of kind person. She was always smiling and a constant joy to be around. She loved her family dearly and had an amazing husband to boot. I keep thinking about the happy times we shared. When we would go out to dinner we would blare up the music and dance. She was a cool person that everyone loved to be around. We teased her because she was always chewing on ice and wearing a sweater because she was cold. I miss her and I hope she is smiling her beautiful smile down from heaven!

  9. Celeste – Thanks so much for commenting. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend.

    It sounds like if anyone made it to Heaven, Cynthia certainly did.

  10. Powerful words, and an excellent tribute Celeste. I’m sure my brother is going to say the same, only more eloqently.

    It’s great that you took the time to make your comment, and I wish you all of the best while trying to cope with your unfortunate loss.

  11. I’ve known Cynthia and her family forever. her mother is also an angel and opened her home to us for bible studies in the 80’s. we all attended the same great church when she and her wonderful(GIFT FROM GOD) husband met. knowing her and alot of others is an example of “ENTERTAINING ANGELS UNAWARE””” i often think of her when i run across an old picture, and even when i’m having my quiet time in an area of my home, that she and my two daughters spent alot of time in as teenagers.. i have so many fond memories . and just running across this site makes me believe, she still reaches out to us in the spirit….REST IN PEACE OUR SWEET CYTH ….WE LOVE YOU ,AMANI AND THE CHILDREN…………………………………..KISS KISS KISS

  12. jean – Thanks so much for contributing. Now that Amani is in the news again for his lawsuit for negligence, I hope that Cynthia’s case helps to raise awareness and makes everybody safer. It doesn’t bring her back at all, and I’m sure that’s the only thing that could truly make Amani happy in all this.

  13. My name is alex and I was a student in Mrs. Carters 5th grade class the year before she passed. I just wanted to say that she was the best teacher a kid could have. She taught me so much stuff in and out of the classroom. She was a great mentor. I will always remember her big mug of ice she used to bring to class everyday for a snack. She was always laughing and smiling and she knew how to make you smile when you weren’t doing to good. She was always involved in her students life, if they had some trouble at home she would talk about with them until they felt better. I remember her helping a student after class on a assignment she didn’t understand. She is the probably the most unselfish person I know. My heart and prayers go out to the Carter family for I know they have lost someone really special! Hhhhhhhhhhhh

  14. She was my teacher at Ferris Intermediate in 5th grade…we all miss her very much…she remains in our hearts

  15. I love this story its uplifting and yet sad aty the same time. When you pass its what people say about you that determines your charcter this women, mother and wife was an awesome child of God. I just saw a movie that was dedicated to her so I goggled her name and found this site, she was heaven sent, my husband and I wacthed the movie with our three daughters. Our aniversary is also in August, and I too was 33 when she died. My prayers will be continually with the family of Cynthia Yulanda Carter.

  16. Mrs. Cynthia Carter was my 6th grade teacher. She was great her and her husband were always together kids were great as well. I still think about her to this day. Since the oldest I think should be graduating this year if not, last year.

  17. Hello everyone, this is the 5 year anniversary of my baby Cynthias death. I want you guys to know that i appreciate all the prayers and the thought s that you have for Cynthia. To give you a update, i remarried 3 years ago, i didnt think i would but i did. Kiaundra the oldest will be graduating this year, she is doing good, she has her basic teenage struggles.She wants to be a movie writer and director. Shes pretty good. Aj our son is in the tenth grade , pray for that boy, lol. He wants to start dating. Alicia my youngest is doing great, shes a A student and playing sports. God has really blessed us after the tragedy. We held together and made it through. I really really miss her, but we will see her again. By the waymy mother and sister was making a movie when she past away. So they decided to change the story in honor of Cynthia. The name of the movie is called ” Of boys and Men”. Robert Townsend plays myself and Angela Bassett plays Cynthia. Thank you again for the thoughts and prayers and remembering her.

  18. Hello everyone…I’m Cynthia’s Sister-n-law (Amani’s sister) and he shared with me that this blog post was out here in cyberspace and that people have still been leaving comments. As Amani said, today is the anniversary of her death…but we keep her alive in our hearts EVERYDAY. We miss her so much…life has not been the same without her physically here. But God has given us the grace to move forward and celebrate each day that we are blessed with. As Amani said, we were in the process of making a feature film when the accident happened (Cynthia was soooo excited about it and was looking forward to visiting the set and being apart of the family’s experience on this project). The film called “Of Boys and Men” was released in January 2011 by Warner Brothers. It is available on DVD in Walmart, Target, and pretty much anywhere online (Netflix, Amazon, etc). Please check out the website at There is a dedication to Cynthia on that page as well. **Also, the tv rights have now been picked up by BET. So we are keeping her legacy alive in our own way. Thanks for your prayers and heartfelt words for my brother and the entire family. :-)

  19. Thank you so much for your comments. It means a lot to me that you stopped to let us know how you are doing, Amani. I also appreciate Maisha stopping by and giving details about the movie — I’m going to see if I can pull it up on Netflix tonight. I re-read my post and all the comments. They made this page so much more than I ever imagined it could be when I sat down to write. Sorry that my blog isn’t very busy these days — probably not many of my readers from back then will see these latest comments. I plan to let them know they should come back and read this page now. I also plan to use Facebook to help spread the word about the film.

  20. Your commentI just watched the movie on BET and saw the dedication so I googled her name. I don’t typically cry when watching movies but this one tugged at my heart strings. I just couldn’t help it. The story was presented so genuinely and was so well told. The actors were perfectly cast and I especially enjoyed Robert Townsend’s portrayal of the dad. Best wishes to the family. Special thanks to the author of this blog for your unique dedication.

  21. Helo my name is Vanessa J. Ross, I had the pleasure of seeing the movie 2day on Bet for the first tme and I must tell u guys it truly touch’d my heart. you see my daughter pass’d away n Feb.2010 n I was left to raise her 2 kids. Oh my,it hasn’t been easy so I can definitely understand wat u guys r goin thru. My daughter had sickle cell anemia n trust me that has been a journey but, da grace of god we’re getting thru. I just want u guys to know wat a beautiful thing u’re doin n it was truly a powerful mesg. from da movie we really did enjoy it n I will b purchasing it today, wat a word god bless u guys n stay encourage!!!! we will continue to pray 4r u all as I ask u do da same 4r us.11/4/11 thnx, sooo muc 4r sharing

  22. I just watched “Of Boys and Men” and I must say that it is one of the best movies I have ever seen. I am 53 years old and have seen many movies. It beautifully illustrated the realistic relationship between husband and wife, parent and child, grief and loss, God and forgiveness. The issue of child molestation advocated on the side of the child. The cast was excellent. I look forward to watching the movie again.

  23. I also finished watching the movie “Of Boys and Men” and I also agree that it was one of the best movies I have seen. I had errands to run, but I could not pull my self away until the movie ended. I also googled after seeing the tribute and I had already planned on googling because I noticed the banner during the movie that read “Cynthia Yulanda Carter” recreation center or something like that. The movie was a great tribute and so real…. My prayers to the Carter Family, Amani…Bless you and your wife and children…. Thank you for sharing your story….

  24. I am glad to hear it aired on BET. We just checked, and sadly, we don’t get it on our DishNetwork plan. Thanks, everyone, for stopping to comment. I wish I could say I had anything to do with the making of the film, but I’m glad my blog has provided even the tiniest community for those touched by the story. I will have to find it for my family to view somehow.

  25. wel da movie is @ WalMart, Target stores n da Famly Feature Film u n ur famly wil truly enjoy it be encourage

  26. Good evening all!
    Wow, don’t know where to start. I watched the movie” Of Boys & Men today on Bet. The movie really hit home for me & I found myself crying throughout the entire movie. This is a reminder for all to love & cherise your friends & family because tomorrow is not promised to anyone of us. The cast was AMAZING!!!
    Thanks so much for this site, My prayers go out to the Carter family. I know it’s been 5yrs & the husband has since re-married. Continue to be there for one another & God Bless the children

  27. I just finished watching the movie “Of Boys & Men” and my youngest daughter even came in and watched it with me (something at the age of 15 she never does). This is one of the most touching, inspirational, and thought provoking movies I have ever seen. I found myself fighting back tears throughout much of the movie and when I saw at the end that it was based on a true life story I had to do a Google search to find out about the family depicted in the movie. God bless each of you and I know that Cynthia is indeed an angel in heaven. My sister passed away two years ago from cancer and I still miss her as much today as I did then but I know that one day I will see her again too. My prayers are with you.

  28. I just saw the movie “Of Boys & Men” and I cried throughout the movie. My heart goes out to the Carter family.I trully understand their hurt. To have someone snatched from you suddenly is a hard pill to swallow. God bless you and may He continue to smile on you. Know that your lost was not in vein but God’s perfect will. I will remember you in prayer. Be blessed.
    The cast did an awesome job.

  29. I, too, just finished watching OF BOYS & MEN. It was very emotional and touching. I found myself fighting back tears. I noticed a sign in the gynasium that had the name CYNTHIA YULANDA CARTER on a banner. Then the closing credits said in memory of….So I decided to go online to see if there was something there about her. I enjoyed reading the comments; but I was actually looking for a picture of her. I hope that there will be a picture of her and her family sometime in future. Meanwhile, God bless you all!

  30. My prayers goes out to the family, i know its 2012 but this is the first time i heard about this , only to learn about it tonight on bet the movie of boys to men and it was in memory of Cynthia Yulanda carter and i just looked up the information and was curious who she was. to the family stay strong and prayerful look to god for your needs. Rest in peace Ms Carter

  31. Your commentI bought the movie and watched it before, and today I watched it again on BET. It is one of the most amazing movies ever created. I can really feel it. I didn’t realize it was nonfiction and that really mad me grieve even more. I’m very emotional. I just cried through the whole movie and it hurt me even more when I found out it was true. But God bless you and your family still. And I’m so happy that you all are doing good. She’s in a better place called heaven. God needs some good people with him too.
    R.I.P. Cynthia Yulanda Carter<3 .

  32. I watched the made for television movie regarding this young lady and how her husband and children overcame the tragic incident…My husband was murdered in 1979 nov by a man who decided to rob him…I was left with 3 children and pregnant with the 4th..Tears rosed in my eyes as I watched this movie on BET…May she and my husband R.I.P.

  33. My God, this movie is amazing! I was on my way to bed and from the very beginning I was captured. I cried at least 4 times during this movie. Eerily enough, I somehow felt a strong connection from this movie as well. It is well told and just captures true essence of family, trials, healing, love, and overcoming. I had no idea this was based on a true story. Wow. May God continue to bless this family. She was evidently already a blessing to many, but little did we know that God would use Mrs. Carter in such a way to touch millions of people. Wow. Needless to say, I will be purchasing this movie for keeps. Thank you Carter family for sharing your story with the world. God bless!

  34. I just watched the movie tonight and Googled when I realized it was a true movie. I am so sorry for your loss and pray for your continual struggle of your sudden and tragic loss. The family love was beautifully portrayed.

  35. I just finished watching “Of Boys and Men” and I must say it’s one of the most touching stories. My heart goes out to the family. I lost my mother 3 years ago when I was just a teen(18) and it was one of the hardest things to cope with. This movie brought back so many of those feelings I had from when I lost my mother and so many tears, very very, very, touching. Cynthia sounded like a truly amazing person and like someone else said in an earlier post millions probably won’t see this movie or know this story but I am glad that I could be one to learn of it. Prayers to the family and it may be cliche` but “it does get better.”

  36. Your commentThis was the most touching movie I have seen in a long time. I love Robert Townsend and his movies anyway but this one is so out of the box for him. I think he played his character really well as all of the other actors did. This story is one of thousands that suffer tragic loss and they are not shared with the rest of the world. I am a little more grateful that I was before watching the movie. I like how this movie revealed events that occurred around this family while they were in the healing process and life just went on. It was one story out of many on just that one street. I don’t know who to thank for this movie but I would like to say that I will pray for both families involved in the tragedy because it not easy to forget what happened to that mother and to the driver as well.

  37. I just watched the movie and was very impressed how honest this movie was. I was so moved and touched by this movie. The way the father struggled with his faith is how I struggle with mine since my own tragedy. Believe me when I say your wife still lives and she is still doing her thing. You go girl.

  38. I just finished watching the movie, Of Boys and Men, I was so touched – a very strong movie Makes you realize just how fragile life really is. Prayers to the family..God Bless!

  39. I too, like so many others, just saw the movie and decided to google the name. I am a teacher who was home today not feeling well, mostly just from the overwhelming stress of life. I happened to come across this movie (not being a regular BET watcher) and found myself in tears often. I also found myself relating and reflecting on things in my life that keep me from my family, rethinking the “have to do’s” of work/community commitments with the “need to do’s” of spending time with my family. The scene in the kitchen…been through it so many times with my husband. My baby is graduating high school this year, and while I have tried my best to be at every soccer/softball game…I realize now all of the time I’ve missed out on. Thank you for being the “message” I needed today. God bless.

  40. Hello Amani first and foremost God Bless you and your entire family, and a big CONGRATS on your marriage. You are a wonderful father and you have done a fabulous job keeping your family together. I saw the movie and was overwhelmed so many times throughout it. It made me look at my life in an entirely different manner and appreciate my family so much more. I thank you and your family for allowing so many of us to feel the sadness and pain of what can happen to any one of us at any given time. I’m sure ths movie will help change a lot of hearts and bring families closer together. Your will to be strong has allowed you to continue to live on and hold all the beautiful memories of Cynthia within your heart. God will continue to Bless you, your chidren and your family. Many more Blessings are yet to come.

  41. I just want to say that I thank God for the opportunity to view this movie at this time in my life. Like many others, I was unaware that this movie was based on a real life story. My heart truly goes out to the family and loved ones of Mrs. Cynthia Yulanda Carter. I recently lost my love four months ago in a tragic motorcycle crash and like Mr. Carter, I have those questions of “why…I did everything right” [or so I thought]. At any rate, I am grateful for being able to DVR the movie after I finished my breakfast this morning and headed out to church. I give thanks for the strength of you and your family and forever, to God be the glory!

  42. Hello,
    I just watched the movie and I was in tears!! I googled the name and came up with this. This is so sad, I had no idea it was a real life story until the end. All the best to the Carter family

  43. This movie was already on my television when I came home today so I did not see it from the beginning. I noticed Robert Townsend and Angela Bassett so it caught my interest. The more I watched it, I realized I had never seen it before and could not figure out how I could have missed it. I was so moved and was so teary eyed through much of it. I saw her name at the end and wondered who she was and why it was dedicated to her memory so I googled her name and ended up here. Thanks for all the additional information as it gave me more insight. I will have to purchase the movie so I can see it from the beginning. My sixteen year old daughter started watching it with me and she was crying too. Thanks for such a great, inspirational, moving tribute to this family and how they dealt with their loss as a family with aid other families as they deal with similar family situations.

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