Carter Brown was driving home from college to surprise his girlfriend Kaylee Suders on the morning of April 15 when the 19-year-old, who had been up much of the previous night, drifted into the opposing lane of traffic and died in the ensuing accident. His heartbroken family—they also lost Carter's 23-year-old brother in September—somehow found a way to bring a little light back to Suders' life as Carter's dad, Robert, decided to escort Kaylee, a senior at the Pennsylvania high school Carter had graduated from the year before, to the prom that was to be held little more than a month after Carter's death. "Carter was in college, he wasn’t super excited about going to a high school prom, but he was excited about doing that for Kaylee," Carter's mom, Kelly, tells the Public Opinion. "So Rob didn’t like the idea of Kaylee not getting that." They attended the dance Saturday.
Rob made the decision to take Kaylee to prom within days of his son's death, and had gotten permission from the principal of James Buchanan High School by little more than a week after Carter died. "I kept thinking my son would want her to go," Rob tells the Centre Daily Times. "It meant a lot that he kind of stepped up and took the role, because it was my senior prom and I didn’t want to go anymore," says Suders, who had been dating Carter for a year and best friends with him for three. Rob says the experience of watching Suders prepare for her senior prom, which he drove her to in Carter's car, was "overwhelming." Both he and his wife, who have two other sons, say Suders is part of the family. "I think it's really sweet and wonderful and says a lot about Kaylee's relationship too, that she wanted to go with [Rob]," Kelly says. "It speaks to how much she is a part of our family and how much we love her." (Read more high school prom stories.)