Craig Campbell knows what it feels like to lose a loved one to a tragic accident, and now he’s helping an Alabama family grieve after losing their 18-year-old son on Thanksgiving night in a car wreck.
West Limestone High School senior Cole Smith died instantly the night of Nov. 24 when his Chevrolet Z-71 truck left the road and struck a tree shortly before midnight. That same morning he told his brother Easton and sister Emilee that he wanted to share with them his favorite song—Campbell’s single, “Outskirts Of Heaven.” Campbell released the song in April, 20 years after his own sister died in a car accident when he was 16-years-old.
Friends and family in Cole’s hometown of Athens were stunned by his death. “He lived his life to the fullest and he touched many lives during his 18 years,” his mother, Missy, tells PEOPLE.
As it became known that Cole shared Campbell’s tune only hours before his death, one family friend, Miranda Stewart, took it upon herself to write to the country singer, letting him know that his music gave them strength as they mourned.
“Your song has allowed my best friend and her wonderful family to grieve in a way that they can seek comfort in knowing that Cole is okay because he is with God now on the outskirts of heaven, where there’s hay in the fields and fish in the river,” Stewart said in a letter to Campbell. “They are absolutely devastated but your song brings them comfort and makes them feel closer to Cole.”
Touched by the letter, Campbell sought to put a glimmer of happiness in their lives by performing “Outskirts Of Heaven” at Cole’s memorial on Dec. 13 at his high school.
“It was an honor to have Craig come and sing the song to our family in memory of Cole,” says Missy. “I would like to think Cole was smiling down from the outskirts.”
“The song ‘Outskirts of Heaven’ will always be a special song to me and to my family,” she continued. “Cole shared this with us on more than one occasion and the last time was on the day he died.”
To continue Cole’s honor, his family set up a football charity called Touchdowns from Heaven.