Kim Wilder has the donation buckets ready at Papa John’s Pizza to let the community donate to help with funeral expenses for teens after fatal crash. (Madison Courier staff photo)
Kim Wilder has the donation buckets ready at Papa John’s Pizza to let the community donate to help with funeral expenses for teens after fatal crash. (Madison Courier staff photo)
The Madison Papa John’s pizza store will donate 20% of all sales to the families of local teens Tyler Cooley and Brooklyn James, who were killed in a fatal car crash west of Madison Jan. 9, the store announced on its Facebook page Saturday.

The Cooley and James families have begun making funeral arrangements while the driver, Blake Coombs, remains at University of Louisville hospital in critical but stable condition.

Papa John’s general manager Kim Wilder said the total amount will be split and given to each family. Once Coombs’ condition is known, the store will open donations for his family, she said. They hope to raise at least $500 to $1,000 per family.

“I just wish everyone would stick together. In times like this we just need other people,” Wilder said.

The accident hits close to home for employees of the store, who lost their co-worker and friend, Dallas Jackson, in a car crash July 31, 2018. The store opened donations for Jackson’s widow and got a police escort to his services, thanks to supervisors and managers from Papa John’s stores in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana taking over the store for the day. Now the store is giving back, assistant manager Becca Webster said.

“We just wanted to do something for them, because it is sad to lose someone at such a young age, especially family. Because when we lost [Dallas], he was pretty much family to us, and it hurt us pretty bad at the store,” Webster said.

Webster graduated three years ahead of James at Madison Consolidated High School and remembers she was “a nice girl” and well-liked throughout the school.

Another business, Advantage Auto Solutions, announced on Facebook that all proceeds from oil changes Monday will be donated to the James family for funeral expenses.

Aaron “Grubby” Grubbs, the owner-operator of the auto repair shop, said he’s known them for years and was contacted by a friend about their situation.

“I’ve got an outlet here that does generate some publicity and some money...I figure if we don’t help each other out then who’s gonna help us out, you know?” he said.

A fundraiser for James on GoFundMe.com has raised $2,973 of its $5,000 goal as of 2 p.m. Monday. A GoFundMe was also set up for the Cooley family Saturday and has already surpassed its goal of $10,000.

Because of the attention surrounding the accident, Wilder expects Tuesday to be a busy day for the restaurant.

“I’m sure we’ll be running behind. I didn’t think it would blow up the way it did, but it just went crazy, so I know we’re gonna be extremely busy, and everybody just be patient with us also,” she said.

Southwestern Jefferson School Corporation was supposed to have its homecoming game and dance Friday, but rescheduled for Saturday, Feb. 15 after Cooley’s death. Cooley was a senior at Southwestern and participated in track, cross country, basketball and 4-H.

Visitation for Cooley will be Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Southwestern Elementary School gym and Saturday from 9 a.m. until time of service. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in the same place. Burial is at Crown Hill Cemetery in New Washington.

Service times for James have not yet been announced.