Turlock grief-support house mourns loss of founder’s son, 20, who ‘lived with gusto’

An entrance sign to Jessica’s House in Turlock is pictured in this file photo.
An entrance sign to Jessica’s House in Turlock is pictured in this file photo. Modesto Bee file

Turlock resident Carter Nelson, 20, who died from injuries he suffered when his car crashed on Claus Road in Modesto on Monday night, was the son of Erin Nelson, founding executive director of Jessica’s House, which offers grief support for children and adults. The young man’s father is Bryan Nelson.

A post on the Jessica’s House Facebook page says, in part, “Carter was bright, creative, and kind. ... He dreamed of many things, including becoming a professional engine builder. He lived with gusto and loved revving his engine and fast cars. Carter found great joy building motors, working on cars, and helping others with theirs. His hands were always covered in grease.”

The crash occurred about 10:30 p.m. Monday. Nelson was southbound in a 2003 Honda Civic when he lost control of the car on the Claus curve south of Johansen High School. He went off the road and struck a tree.

Nelson, who was alone in the vehicle, was taken to a hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries.

Police have said speed appears to be a factor in the crash.

The Facebook post by Jessica’s House says the young man loved singing, playing the piano and songwriting. “He was purposeful and focused,” it says. “He was authentic, articulate, and compassionate.”

Erin Nelson is an advanced certified trainer, consultant and trauma practitioner through the National Institute of Trauma and Loss in Children. She was thrust into the “grief world,” as the Jessica’s House website puts it, in 1995 when her husband, Tyler Alldrin, was killed in a midair plane collision over Alaska in June 1995.

Not long after, her own mother committed suicide, and Erin began to raise her 15-year-old sister. With the teen joining Erin and Tyler’s two young children, Cody and Cassie, in the home, “Erin learned the importance of strong support for grieving families,” her bio on the Jessica’s House site says.

Jessica’s House, which was founded in 2011, is named for Jessica Everett, who was 9 when she died of leukemia in 2004. Erin Nelson got to know Jessica’s parents, Mike and Danielle Everett, after Cody became friends with their son, Mitchell, when the boys were classmates.

The Everetts had wished a place such as Jessica’s House had existed for Mitchell when his sister died.

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Deke has been an editor and reporter with The Modesto Bee since 1995. He currently does breaking-news, education and human-interest reporting. A Beyer High grad, he studied geology and journalism at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento.