Cedric “C.J.” and Lauren Davis had dedicated their young marriage to helping people through their Arlington church, but Nov. 13 was supposed to be a Friday evening for themselves, with a Dallas Mavericks game as a gift.
“C.J.’s birthday was that Monday before, and Lauren had bought the Mavs tickets to surprise him,” said her mother, Tammy Benthall.
They never made it to their seats. As they walked from a restaurant to the American Airlines Center, they were struck down by a car that ran a red light and collided with a pickup at the intersection of Harry Hines Boulevard and Moody Street, Dallas police said.
The driver of the car, Kevin Michael Christman, 30, of Dallas has been charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter. He was released from jail after posting $100,000 bail, police said.
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Mr. Davis died the night of the crash, and Mrs. Davis died the next morning, said an official with the Dallas County medical examiner’s office.
The pair were laid to rest side by side Saturday in Kennedale.
They were truly meant for each other.
Susan Davis, C.J. Davis’ mother
“We’ve done everything in our power to keep them together,” said Mr. Davis’ mother, Susan, managing to chuckle. “Not that they’ve ever been apart much. From three or four years before they got married, you’d always see them together.”
The couple shared a life-changing experience last year when they accompanied a group from Fielder Church to Chile, where they continued work to rebuild a church destroyed in a magnitude-8.8 earthquake in 2010.
Mrs. Davis made her first trip to the church in Coronel, near the epicenter of the quake, in April last year, and returned there in July with her new husband.
“C.J. came back saying he was a changed man,” Benthall said. “I think he was humbled by the outpouring of love from the Chilean people. He helped build the sign for the church, so people would be able to know it was a church.”
“Lauren and C.J. both loved going down there,” Benthall added, saying that the congregation there apparently loved the Fielder volunteers for doing it. “In fact, the pastor of that church in Chile is here now. He will be part of the [funeral].”
Susan Davis described her son as “competitive — but ‘good-natured competitive’ ” — and a sports lover: “He loved to watch them all; he loved to play them all.”
That’s what you want — you want them to cherish your daughter. And that’s what he did.
Tammy Benthall, Lauren Davis’ mother
She said Mr. Davis’ fire for volunteerism came later for him than for his wife.
“He always went to church. He was always a wonderful, kindhearted, caring young man,” Davis said. “But I think he got much more involved in the mission side of it, wanting to help people more, once he met Lauren. She just intensified that in him. They were truly meant for each other.”
He graduated from Martin High School, and she from Arlington High School. “They were high school rivals,” Davis said. “They may have met before, but I don’t think they would have realized it.”
No, that came when Mr. Davis visited Mrs. Davis’ previous church, Tate Springs Baptist. “I think it was pretty much love at first sight,” Benthall said, adding she felt it was a good match.
“That’s what you want — you want them to cherish your daughter,” she said. “And that’s what he did.”
They also were focused on getting their careers underway.
Mrs. Davis graduated in 2012 from the University of Texas at Arlington with a bachelor’s degree in advertising, said UTA spokeswoman Kristin Sullivan. She was hired as marketing coordinator at The Beck Group, a commercial architect and builder with a Dallas office.
Mr. Davis was a UTA sophomore, Sullivan said. He transferred to UTA in 2014 from Tarrant County College and also worked full time as office manager at General Truck Body Manufacturing Co. in Arlington, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“They just had so many plans for the future,” Benthall said. “This is really sad that we only had them for 26 years. I know from the bottom of my heart they’re with the Lord, and yet I wish I could have had them just a little bit longer.”