The Facebook page of Devin Tate Gardner has become an impromptu memorial to the Scotland High School senior killed Thursday afternoon in an automobile accident.
Gardner was killed when his car ran off Highland Road and crashed into a tree, according to the state Highway Patrol. The wreck happened at 4:53 p.m, according to a preliminary report. Gardner of 12901 Gibson Road was traveling west when his 2000 Chevrolet crossed the center line and hit a tree, the report said.
Filled with recollections from classmates and family members, Gardner’s Facebook “wall” has evolved into a virtual meeting place for those coping with the loss of the 17-year-old Laurinburg native.
“It’s hard to believe you’re gone man. I just saw you yesterday at school…you will be missed man thanks for always being there for us,” wrote classmate Cody Smith.
Another of Gardner’s friends wrote “Love you man, I’ll never forget you.”
SHS classmate Leslie Floyd recalled her time at church with Gardner: “I can’t believe you’re gone. We’ve known each other since we were like three. We always used to get into friendly debates at church but I know that you always had my back. I’ll miss you but I know you’re with God now.”
The school system offered formal psychological support for students to deal with the sudden death. School board member Terence Williams said on Friday that the high school has arranged for counseling support staff to “descend on Scotland High School to help the students matriculate through the grieving process.”
The photos Gardner uploaded to his page before his death reveal an interest in music and in Scotland High School, where Gardner had recently become the first bass guitar player in the SHS concert band. Gardner also played handbells at First Baptist Church, where he was an active member.
A memorial service for Gardner will be held at 4 p.m. on Monday at the First Baptist Church.
He is survived by his parents David and Sally Witmore Gardner, his grandmother Katie Witmore, his uncles Jim Gardner (Dawn), Kenny Gardner, and Gary Gardner (Ann), his aunts Ellen (J. R.) Best and Sylvia Witmore.
Born on Oct. 28, 1994 in Wilmington, Gardner attended Covington Street Elementary School as well as Spring Hill and Carver Middle Schools before advancing to Scotland High School, where he had just started his senior year.
The family will receive friends from 5-8 p.m. on Sunday at the McDougald Funeral Home and Crematorium and following the service at the First Baptist Church fellowship hall.
A Maxton woman died also died on Thursday when a driver ran a stop sign at Airport and Old Lumberton roads and struck the vehicle in which she was riding, the Highway Patrol said.
The wreck happened at 10:35 a.m. about seven miles east of Laurinburg, according to a report filed by Trooper Hugh Dixon.
Betty Strickland, 65, of 1214 S. Austin St., was a passenger in the car that was hit in the side, Dixon’s preliminary report said.
The names of the drivers were not immediately available, but the report said both were seriously injured.