Mom of Newlywed Killed Alongside NASCAR Pit Crew Member Husband Says Family Is 'Still in Disbelief'

Joelle Goldstein
·4 min read

NASCAR Pit Crew Member Killed in Car Crash Alongside Wife While on Honeymoon in Florida Keys

The newlyweds died just three days after their wedding

The families of NASCAR pit crew member William "Rowdy" Harrell and his new wife Blakley are still processing their grief after the newlyweds were killed in a car crash last month while on their honeymoon.

Blakley's mom, Stacie Mills Kelley, tells PEOPLE that both families have been leaning on each other in the wake of the tragedy, especially as they mark their first holiday season without Harrell, 30, and Blakley, 23.

"It's hard," Kelley, 45, says. "I have days that are bad... and I do know that [Harrell's parents] are struggling really hard too."

"We're family, we're always going to be family and we've stayed close," she adds. "But everybody's just still hurting and still in disbelief."

Harrell and Blakley were on their honeymoon in the Florida Keys on Nov. 24 when they were involved in a head-on car collision, according to a statement from Hendrick Motorsports, where Harrell worked as a pit crew member for eight seasons.

Stacie Mills Kelley William "Rowdy" Harrell and Blakley Harrell

The crash occurred just three days after the couple tied the knot in their native Alabama — a day that Kelley describes as "beautiful."

"It was a perfect day," the grieving mother says. "They were a perfect match. They adored each other to no ends."

"Blakley was so deserving of him," she notes of her daughter. "She deserved that happiness and she finally got it."

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According to Kelley, the couple first met through Harrell's sister, under whom Blakley had been apprenticing as a hairstylist in Alabama.

It wasn't long before Blakley found herself falling for the Hendrick Motorsports tire carrier, and moved to North Carolina to live with him, her mom says.

"Everybody gets drawn to Rowdy. He's just amazing," recalls Kelley. "They went out and immediately, I knew that it was just not a [singular] date."

Stacie Mills Kelley William "Rowdy" Harrell and Blakley Harrell

While dating for close to three years, Kelley notes how her daughter would always put Harrell's needs ahead of her own.

"She's very nurturing and motherly," she explains. "With Rowdy, she always packed his suitcase. I would always say, 'He can pack his own suitcase, Blakley.' But she's like, 'No, mom, I know he can, but I'd just rather pack it.'"

"She just liked to take care of people," adds Kelley. "She was ready to be a mom, and she was very giving."

Stacie Mills Kelley Blakley Harrell with her mom Stacie Mills Kelley

The pair took the next step in their relationship last December when Harrell popped the question.

From there, they spent the majority of 2020 planning their nuptials, which took place at The Farm in Akron, Alabama, before embarking on their honeymoon.

"When they were trying to plan their honeymoon, nobody could go anywhere [due to COVID-19] so Blakley said, 'We're just gonna stay in the States. We're just gonna go somewhere down in Florida. And that way, whatever happens with COVID, we'll be fine going there,'" Kelley recalls.

Stacie Mills Kelley William "Rowdy" Harrell and Blakley Harrell

"Rowdy works a lot and doesn't get a lot of break time, so Blakley was really excited about the honeymoon and [it] just being them," Kelley continues. "The high of the wedding and then coming into a complete low from that was just devastating to us."

Though it's been a month since the fatal collision, Kelley says details about the incident remain unclear other than what has already been reported by authorities.

"It's still under investigation and we haven't heard anything," she explains. "We really don't know anything other than it was a two-car [accident] and it was raining that night."

As they wait for more answers, Kelley says both families are having a hard time imagining the future without Harrell and Blakley.

"My oldest daughter just got engaged a couple of months ago and it's hard to try to continue with that without Blakley and Rowdy here," she says. "It's going to be hard."