It came in a text message: "I love you."
A daughter's last words to her mother. The mom's last words: "I love you too."
It was Sunday night and 17-year-old Laura Fortenberry was on her way home to babysit her step-sister and brother.
"I was a single parent. I raised her on my own. There were times we only had each other," said Michelle Armstrong.
Armstrong says she always had trouble letting her daughter go even though her daughter was responsible. "I never worried about her because I knew she had a good head on her shoulders. She was going to do good things."
But Laura's life was cut short Sunday night.
Highway Patrol Troopers say 28-year-old Howard Pasour was driving drunk when his car crossed the center line on Dallas-Cherryville Highway. Two other teenagers in the car with Fortenberry were seriously injured. They are in Carolinas Medical Center.
Armstrong says she was concerned when her daughter didn't make it home as scheduled. She knew about the wreck, but thought the friends were just tied up in traffic. Then, more details emerged about the accident.
"I knew it was her." She learned the make of car involved in the wreck and knew it matched the car her daughter was riding in. " I knew she was the only 17-year-old in the car," said Armstrong.
Armstrong spent Monday evening talking about her daughter, showing pictures of a beautiful teenager with an engaging smile. Laura was attending college and wanted to work in forensics.
Michelle Armstrong is now filled with grief. "I hate him for what he robbed me of. She was the only thing I had for years," she said.
And according to police reports, Pasour was a habitual offender, arrested three times prior for drunk driving.
"I hope he gets the maximum. I want him to pay. I don't have nothing," said Armstrong.
-- by ANN SHERIDAN, NewsChannel 36
Published in Charlotte Observer on July 27, 2010