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Kentucky teen loses parents in car crash right after high school graduation

Dalton Barnett's mother wore a special "Senior Mom" shirt to the ceremony.
/ Source: TODAY

A Kentucky teen lost both parents in a car crash moments after he received his high school diploma.

Dalton Barnett, 18, and his family were headed to a post-graduation lunch on Saturday, when their car collided with a pickup truck.

The car’s driver, Nancy Barnett, 53, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband, Lyndon "Johnson" Barnett, 56, later died from his injuries at the University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington.

Dalton Barnett at his high school graduation. Courtesy of Stephanie Emmons

Dalton is listed in serious condition, while his 26-year-old brother, Michael, is listed in critical condition, a UK hospital spokesperson told TODAY Parents.

The driver of the pickup truck was uninjured.

Nancy, who worked as head chef at local nursing home, was planning to surprise Dalton with a slide show later that day.

“She showed me all the pictures on her phone,” Nancy’s coworker Brooklynn Smith told TODAY Parents. “She couldn’t stop talking about excited she was."

Nancy even wore a T-shirt to the graduation ceremony that read: “Senior Mom: Some people wait their whole lives to meet their inspiration. I raised mine. Class of 2020.”

Dalton was one of the first students to walk across the stage, according to Fleming High School principal, Stephanie Emmons.

"He immediately went and gave his mom a big hug," Emmons told TODAY Parents. "Then he hugged his dad and his dad looked at him and joked, 'Well, 'it's time to go work!'"

Nancy Barnett wore a special t-shirt to her son Dalton's graduation. Courtesy of Stephanie Emmons

Emmons recalled how important it was to Nancy that Dalton keep up his good grades.

"She'd call and check in," Emmons said. "She was just a really great mother. And Dalton is an incredible young man, just kind and sweet. One of his teachers, she put something on Facebook describing him as a gentle giant, and he really is."

Kyle Boswell, a family friend who started a GoFundMe page for the Barnetts, told TODAY Parents that Nancy "adored" her children. She and Johnson are also parents of a 31-year-old son named L.J. Barnett, who is in the Air Force.

L.J's wife, Jennifer Barnett, shared a tribute to her in-laws on Facebook on Sunday.

"As most of you know, Johnson worked at Honda for 20+ years, where he found his love for working on trikes. He loved his toolbox!" she wrote. "Nancy literally knew everyone within her own radius. When we’d be in a grocery store she would stop and talk to anyone and know them from somewhere and something. If you knew Nancy she cared about everyone."

A funeral for Nancy and Lyndon will be held on Saturday.