Community hosts fundraiser to help victims of street racing crash

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Alanah Hamilton and Sawyer Bennett are quite a pair on Sandia High School’s girls volleyball c-team. 

“They’re very good friends, they are thick as thieves. Sawyer is a goofball. Alana is… she’s so sweet and nice,” said Emily Conway, head coach of the Sandia High School volleyball team. 

But, in an instant the two young teen girls’ lives changed forever last week.

“It’s been a whirlwind, that’s for sure,” said Conway.

A little more than a week ago, they became victims of Albuquerque’s most recent street racing crash.

It happened on Louisiana near Comanche in northeast Albuquerque – blocks from their high school.

Hamilton’s mom, Jenna, died in the crash and both teens were seriously injured. 

“Your players become your kids, and you love them so much, and you can’t imagine something happening to them. And when something does, it’s heartbreaking,” Conway said.  

Conway says no matter how many years you’ve been coaching, you can’t prepare for something like this. 

“As a coach it’s really hard to be like “OK, I can’t do anything. I can’t fix this problem.’ You know? So that’s been probably the hardest struggle of all of my coaches,” said Conway. 

They started a GoFundMe page and opened the Hamilton and Bennett fund at New Mexico Bank and Trust. 

Two other local high schools – La Cueva and Eldorado – also stepped up to host in-person fundraisers at their upcoming games. 

“It’s just been wonderful to see like, the city and also the state with volleyball just come together and say ‘Hey, we love you guys, and we’re here to help you in any way that we can,’” said Conway said. 

Conway spoke briefly on behalf of the Hamilton and Bennett families about the seriousness of street racing– saying they want to promote an understanding of the real world consequences, and share these stories to humanize the tragedies.

“They would also like the community to know that street racing might seem thrilling in the moment, but the true cost can be innocent lives,” said Conway. “Nothing’s worth that risk of putting somebody else’s life in danger.” 

Both are expected to make a full recovery.