WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Students and teachers at Burke County High School are mourning a 16-year-old who was killed in a motorcycle accident and who lost his own mom in a car wreck when he was 3.
Gavin James, 16, was killed in the crash Thursday on Farmers Bridge Road — the fourth victim of a local motorcycle accident within a matter of days.
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden death of our beloved student, BCHS junior, Gavin Seth James,” the Burke County Public School System said on Facebook. “Our heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to the family, friends, and loved ones as well as to employees and his classmates.”
According to his obituary on the James Funeral Home website, he was the son of the late Saulena Dee Kirkland Vilano and Wendy and Vernon Elliott James II.
Services are set for 3 p.m. Wednesday in the James Funeral Home Chapel, 630 N. Main St. in Wrens, Jesse James and the Rev. Wayne Todd officiating. He’ll be buried beside his mother in the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery in Avera.
The teenager grew up in the Hephzibah-Blythe area and enjoyed gaming, fishing and sports, particularly football and baseball, according to the obituary.
He also loved riding four-wheelers, dirt bikes and racing bikes.
He was described as a jokester but very polite and respectful to adults, a hard worker and loving.
Because of their sudden, unexpected loss, the family respectfully requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made directly to James Funeral Home, P.O. Box 588, Wrens GA 30833.
The string of deadly motorcycle crashes has troopers and activists on both sides of the Savannah River growing more concerned.
Other motorcyclists killed recently include:
- David Mark Auvenshine II, 46, of Waynesboro, killed Feb. 8 on Interstate 520 west of Doug Barnard Parkway.
- Danny W. Wyatt, 53, of Warrenville, killed while riding a dirt bike that collided with a pickup on Feb. 6 just south of Langley Pond at Carline Road.
- Jacob Colin Patterson, 26, of Marengo, Ill., died at the scene of a Feb. 3 crash in the 3600 block of Wrightsboro Road at Belair Road in Augusta.
Lance Cpl. Tyler Tidwell of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said: “One of the hardest things we can do is knock on someone’s door or their relative’s door and tell them their loved one is deceased and no longer here.”
Last year, South Carolina reported more deaths on motorcycles than any year since 1980. That’s 154 out of 1,121 bikers, or 14 percent of fatalities are bikers.
“We’re out here trying to make a difference, and we don’t want to lose any lives at all. What we want to do is encourage people to ride safely,” he said.
Troopers and activists will continue pushing for more education and patrols on the roadways.
“The best thing that we can do is try and educate. Educate everybody to put the phones down and keep looking around you,” said Tidwell.
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