At age 25, Donte D. Newsome had his whole life ahead of him.
A football fanatic who shined both on defense and offense, the soon-to-be father was just a short time away from finishing his degree at Marshall University on July 5, 2008 when he decided to go to the Fluid nightclub in Huntington, W.Va.
No one could have known that by 3 a.m. he would lay dead outside of the nightclub, his life taken in a hail of bullets that also wounded two others, according to The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.
But, after his death, the lasting reminders of his life wouldn’t just be friends and family calling to reminisce about his smile—but also bill collectors demanding payment for his student loans.
Years after Newsome’s death, Newsome’s parents Angela and Bruce Smith are drumming up support with a Change.org petition, in the hopes social media will force the lender to cancel his outstanding student debt.
“I’m shocked and angry that your company has once again refused to forgive a grieving family’s loan debt following the death of their child, who was the primary borrower,” Angela Smith said in a petition letter to Daniel Myers, chief executive officer for First Marblehead Corporation, which works in conjunction with American Education Services.
“Every month for the past four years American Education Services calls our home and sends us letters demanding loan payments,” Smith said. “My family can't afford to pay them, so all these calls do is remind me of the short life my son lived and the future he will never have.”
Huntington police made an arrest in the Newsome murder case just one day after the shooting in 2008, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
In her petition, Smith said that her husband, who co-signed for their son’s two loans, could now possibly have his “job and career” jeopardized because the unpaid loans are on his credit report.
The couple is asking that First Marblehead Corporation not only to forgive this debt, but revamp their policy for families forced to repay their dead children’s school loans.