NORFOLK, Va. – Faith Gonse, 48, nearly died the night of October 23, 2020.
“The light turned green and the next thing I remember I’m being wheeled in on a stretcher,” Gonse said. “I don’t remember anything.”
It was around 10:15 p.m. that horrific night in October when Norfolk Police said the car Gonse was riding in with her three friends, veered off E. Princess Anne Road, hit a tree, killing everyone but her.
The Virginia Beach resident spent one week in the hospital.
“I’m grateful to everybody and I’m just glad to be alive, but I’m still asking myself why,” she said holding back tears. “I have a lot of guilt for leaving my friends behind.”
Close friend Tommy Posilero has known Gonse since they were little.
“The grace of God, Faith survived,” he said.
As the owner of Mona Lisa’s Restaurant & Bar in Norfolk, Posilero said he wanted to show Gonse just how much the community cares. Saturday night, Posilero organized a barbeque benefit at his restaurant and bar where she and her friends were regulars.
“I’m overwhelmed with emotions,” said Gonse.
Food, donated by Patriot Pitt, was $15 a plate and donations were being accepted for masks and t-shirts that read #FaithStrong.
Posilero said all proceeds raised will help Gonse as she recovers from serious injuries, including broken bones and large gashes in her head and arms.
“It’s not so much the injuries I see, it’s mentally what she’s going to go through,” he said. “She lost three friends in that accident.”
A memorial at the crash site, full of flowers, notes and stuffed animals, continues to grow for Denis “Denny” Snead, 49, Josh Delp, 40, and Christiane Rivera, 36, all of Norfolk.
“They cherished life,” said long-time friend Elizabeth “Izzy” Charity. “They loved, loved life.”
Charity knew all three of the victims for several years. She said she married Josh and Christiane in her living room. They would have celebrated their one-year anniversary on Monday.
“Joshua and Christiane were probably the most perfect couple you would ever come across,” Charity said. “They were beautiful and fun and energetic.”
Charity said Delp, was a retired Army major and Rivera was a retired Chesapeake police officer. She said Snead had a great sense of humor and loved his family.
“Denny loved to play pool,” said Charity. “He was hardworking and dedicated.”
For now, Charity and others say it’s the good memories that are helping them through this devastating time.
“We’re trying to help Faith through it,” she said. “We’re all trying to get through it.”
Gonse came home from the hospital two weeks ago on Halloween night. While she said she may be healing on the outside, she’s still processing what happened and taking it day by day.
“I’m a little broken, a little bruised” she said. “But I’m alive.”
According to Posilero, more than $3,000 was raised Saturday night.
To contribute to an online fundraiser for Gonse, click here.