Daniel Luther, North Carolina mandolinist, killed by drunk driver

Ashley, Silas, and Daniel Luther

Daniel Luther of Asheboro, NC, mandolinist with Long Gone Bluegrass, was killed this past week in a tragic automobile accident. He was 32 years of age.

Luther, heading home from work on Tuesday, was struck head-on by a 21 year-old drunk driver. Charged with driving while impaired and multiple others charges, James Michael Lovett Jr. was involved in two other hit-and-run incidents that evening before he attempted to illegally pass a pickup truck and crashed into Luther.

The young father was airlifted to Baptist Hospital, but succumbed to his injuries on Thursday evening. His organs were donated.

“There was no reasoning, there was no hard thinking about it, I knew exactly what he wanted and this would be it,” Ashley Luther said about her husband’s organ donation.

“He’s the best mandolin player I’ve ever seen, loves his bluegrass, loves God, loves his family,” his wife said, holding the couple’s 6-month-old baby, Silas. “[Silas] won’t remember this, but we’ve got stories to tell him about his dad.”

The couple married six years ago. Ashley Luther stated that her husband worked in investment accounting to support their family. They both served as youth group leaders at the same church where Luther taught Sunday school.

“He was my best friend. And I got to marry him and I got to experience true love and what more could you ask for? I’m gonna miss him a ton,” she said.

Family members say Luther always wanted to help others and his organ donation was no different.

“He is someone else’s answered prayers. Today, families in some waiting rooms just like us here, they’re going to get great news,” said Luther’s brother, Jeremy Ingold. “God is still in business, and somebody’s prayers, many people’s prayers were answered. And it’s because of him and his choice to be that, and that just shows what he’s always been, a giving loving caring person.”

Trent Callicutt, banjo picker with Kenny and Amanda Smith, shared. “This is so sad. I grew up playing music with Daniel. We’ve always been buddies. He was always helping others, even in the end.”

“Heaven gained a great man,” NC banjoist, Matthew Nance, stated. 

“I don’t know what to say, the only way I know how to feel is broken. Daniel was a wonderful and giving person. A close and true friend! Most importantly, he was my brother in Christ! I have known Daniel for most of my life, and I have videos as far back as 2012 of us playing together. For the last 8 or so years that I have been in a band with Daniel, I have grown to know him well. One thing I can say about him, he has always loved the Lord and served him faithfully. It is a peaceful feeling knowing that he is enjoying the presence of the Lord today! Seeing family and friends that went on before. Maybe even tuning a mandolin up. My heart breaks for his family! Please remember Ashley, his wife, his 6 month old son, his mother, brother, and countless other family and friends that are heartbroken. I’m glad to have known Daniel as a friend, and so glad to have been able to make so many memories on stage with him. I love you brother! I’ll see you again one day!” concluded fellow bandmate, Joseph Grooms.

R.I.P., Daniel Luther.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.