WSAZ | Charleston, West Virginia | News

UPDATE: Memorial Service Planned for High School Freshman Killed in Car Crash

By: Brooks Jarosz, Jennifer Rizzi, WSAZ News Staff Email
By: Brooks Jarosz, Jennifer Rizzi, WSAZ News Staff Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Friends and family of a teenager killed in a car accident over the weekend will gather to pay their final respects.

The funeral service for Drew Morton is at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the University of Charleston.

Morton, who was just 14-years-old, died on Sunday morning during a car crash on Quarry Creek Road in Kanawha City. He was a freshman and football player at George Washington High School.

After the service, Morton will be buried during a private ceremony at Graceland Memorial Park. A reception will then be held at GW High School.

The driver of the car only had a learners permit, was speeding and took the car without permission. He's been charged with negligent homicide.



UPDATE 9/17/12 @ 10:20 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Students at George Washington High School spoke out about a tragic accident that took the life of a beloved classmate.

Drew Morton, a freshman, was killed Sunday morning. He was riding as a passenger in a convertible on Quarry Ridge Road when the car crashed and flipped over a hillside.

Police say he was not wearing a seatbelt.

"It's just hard to accept because we're so young ... it's hard to believe that at this age one of our friends died," said Evan Edens, a classmate and friend. "It just shocks you a little bit."

Students say a dark cloud of grief loomed over the school Monday as they returned to classes for the first time without Drew.

"A bunch of kids couldn't really go into class because they'd cry," friend Ethan Hartney. "It was tough because no one wanted to be there."

Classmates say George Washington High School will never be the same without Drew, and many of them are dealing with tragedy for the first time.

They say they'll never forget Drew's fun-loving spirit and sense of humor -- or the lesson they're learning from his loss.

"It's horrible hearing the things that happen to your friends when they don't wear seatbelts," Edens said. "It makes you wonder what would have happened if they had worn them."

Grief counselors were at the high school first thing in the morning, and the student council passed out special ribbons to remember Drew.

Freshman classmates told WSAZ.com they plan on wearing those ribbons through their senior year.



UPDATE 9/17/12 @ 7 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A deadly accident has changed two families forever and left a community in mourning.

Drew Morton, a freshman at George Washington High School, was killed Sunday morning. He was a passenger in a convertible when the car crashed and flipped over a hillside.

The driver, who is also a student at the school, has been charged with negligent homicide. Police say he does not have a driver's license and took his father's car without permission.

Investigators say he was speeding, and they are waiting for more evidence from blood tests. The accident has devastated the George Washington High School community.

A candlelight vigil was held Sunday night, and students continued Monday to try and find ways to cope.

Saying goodbye is something students, teachers and parents never thought they would have to do.

"It's a roller coaster of emotions," George Washington High Principal George Aulenbacher said. "Very somber feeling as the kids walked in this morning."

Drew's big smile and love of football drew hundreds to remember him on the field Sunday night for the vigil.

"He was a very happy young man, always ready for a good joke, ready for a good laugh," football coach Steve Edwards said. "That's something that we're going to miss around here is that smile and his energy. He was just a fine, just a fine boy."

Outside on the field Monday, a montage still played on the video screen. As inside, students struggle with loss and finding ways to express their emotions.

"Everybody wants to be a part of it, everybody wants the parents to know that they care," Aulenbacher said. "And that's what GW stands for."

Student council passed out black ribbons to wear in honor of Morton. Students also signed a tribute with white scrolls of paper lining the hallways.

One said, "R.I.P. Drew -- I can't believe you are gone. Maybe I'll see you again one day."

Another said, "We will miss you so much Drew. You made us smile and laugh always."

One student wrote, "God just needed another angel up there with him -- I'll miss you!"

"I will never forget what an awesome and funny guy you were," one of his friends said. "I miss you so much. You're forever a Patriot."

Drew Morton's parents are torn up by all of this. They did not want to say anything on camera but did say in a statement, "They are overwhelmed and touched by the love and support from the G.W. Community."



UPDATE 9/17/12 @ 11:40 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- While hundreds of people are mourning the loss of Charleston teenager in a fatal accident, the driver of the car is now facing charges.

Two teenagers were driving a convertible Lexus on Quarry Ridge Road in Kanawha City on Sunday and the driver lost control and crashed. Drew Morton, a freshman student at George Washington High School, died from his injuries.

The driver of the car, who was uninjured in the accident, is now being charged with negligent homicide, according to the Charleston Police Department.

Charges were filed Sunday night. According to Charleston Police, the teen appeared before a magistrate and was then released to his parents.

Investigators are still waiting to get more evidence, including blood work, on what exactly caused the crash.

Charleston Police tell WSAZ.com that speed was a factor in the fatal crash. Based on new evidence charges could be upgraded.

Friends and family held a candlelight vigil at George Washington High School Sunday to mourn the loss Morton.

As of Monday afternoon, a video montage was still playing on the school's football field scoreboard. The montage has all sorts of pictures of Morton, including pictures from when he played football at Johns Adams Middle School.

Counselors were at the school Monday morning to help the students cope with the situation.

Student Council members brought black ribbons for everyone to wear in honor of Morton's life.

The school has also posted banners along the hallways for students to leave their final respects.

Morton was a football player at GWHS.

"We're all here with heavy hearts," coach Steve Edwards said. "We've all lost a friend and a loved one.... This is what family does... come to your aid in a time of need."

The football team will have practice Monday afternoon as scheduled. Counselors and coaches will be there to talk with the players.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 9/16/12 @ 10:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Hundreds came out to grieve the loss of a teenager tragically killed in a crash Sunday morning.

The community gathered at George Washington High School to mourn Drew Morton, a freshman student there. Morton was killed while riding as a passenger in a vehicle that crashed on Quarry Ridge Road about 11:18 a.m.

Friends and family held a candlelight vigil to cope with the shock together. They gathered on the football field where Morton played as a member of the football team.

"We're all here with heavy hearts," coach Steve Edwards said. "We've all lost a friend and a loved one this evening. This is what family does... come to your aid in a time of need."

Those who knew Morton say he had a bright and energetic spirit.

"He was a very happy young man," Edwards said. "Always ready for a good joke and a good laugh. That's something we're going to miss."

Grief counselors will be on hand at the high school first thing Monday morning.



ORIGINAL STORY 9/16/12
KANAWHA CITY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A teenage boy is dead after a car crash on Quarry Ridge Road in Kanawha City.

Charleston Police say the crash happened about 11:18 a.m. Sunday.

Police say two teenagers were inside a Lexus convertible when the driver lost control. The car flipped over a hillside and landed on its top.

The driver was not hurt in the crash, but police say the passenger was taken to the hospital where he died from his injuries. They say he was not wearing a seatbelt.

The boy's name is not being released at this time.

Officials at George Washington High School tell WSAZ.com that he was a freshman there.

Grief counselors will be hand first thing Monday morning.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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