A 17-year-old driver has been charged in a crash that killed his 15-year-old passenger in early August.

Troopers say Kenneth Faulkner III has been charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle in the death of Rylee Miller.

Miller played baseball at North Lenoir High School. 

Miller was a passenger in Faulkner’s vehicle, which crashed on NC 11 just south of Grifton near Ferrell Rd. on August 10.

Troopers said the two were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident.

Sergeant Scott Hemby is with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

“A misdemeanor charge is appropriate in this case due to a failure to maintain control,” said Sergeant Hemby. “We do the investigation and we take the findings in the investigation and consult with the district attorney.” 

Austin Joyner was a teammate of Rylee Miller and next-door neighbor to Kenny Faulkner. 

Joyner says he’s still in shock. 

“It’s tough losing a friend, but it’s also tough to have to live with the life of being hurt,” said Joyner. “You don’t expect anything to happen like this.” 

He described Rylee as someone he’s known since the 8th grade. Austin and Rylee played on the same baseball team in middle and high school.

Austin is left with memories of both Rylee and Kenny. 

“There would be times where he (Kenny) would come over and ask to go fishing,” said Joyner. “We had a good friendship, and his brothers would come over and we’ll shoot basketball.” 

Despite the tragedy, the community has joined forces to overcome the grief. 

“Everybody has gotten closer and learned to not take things for granted,” Joyner said. “It’s sad that we didn’t get to have more time with Rylee.” 

Austin says this upcoming baseball year means more than the letters of each jersey. 

“We’re playing for him and we what to have a spectacular year since he is not here with us,” Joyner said. “We just want to make him proud,” 

Austin has one message for the community.

“Keep in touch with people, family, and friends,” Joyner said. “You’ll never know when it’s going to be the last time seeing them.”