Lake City High School Student Killed By Truck While Walking to School Remembered

A South Carolina high school honored one of its students after he was fatally hit by a truck while walking to school. Officials at the campus arranged a vigil to celebrate the life of the ninth grader who was a “well-mannered young man” who excelled in the arts.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, Ja’Quan Rico Cortez, a freshman at Lake City High School in Florence School District Three, was killed in a horrible crash as he traveled to school on Highway 378, according to WPDE 15. The young man was struck by a 2006 Chevy truck around 6 the morning.

According to South Carolina Highway Patrol, the truck was traveling east on Highway 378 near Matthews Road and struck Cortez, who was walking in the same direction.

LCHS principal Terrell Fleming worked with the school administration to organize a two-day commemoration, including a vigil for the 15-year-old, that was held on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 5:30 p.m. on the school’s track.

The next day, on Monday, Nov. 7. at 3 p.m. after classes, the school also hosted a balloon release in his memory.

Fleming said in a statement on Thursday, Nov. 3 that Cortez was “a nice and well-mannered young man who excelled in art.”

“Although he was quiet, his artwork spoke volumes,” Fleming continued. “His friends remember him as kind and always willing to share a smile or listen when they needed to talk.”

The school district said, “Florence School District 3 mourns the loss of Ja’Quan Cortez, a 15-year-old ninth grader at Lake City High School, who was struck by a vehicle and tragically killed while walking to school on the morning of November 2.”

“The district’s crisis response team is providing counseling services for all students and staff who need support during this difficult time,” the statement continued. “FSD3’s Board of Trustees, Superintendent, staff and students offer their deepest condolences to the family, friends and all those who knew and loved him. Lake City High School will plan an appropriate way to remember and memorialize Ja’Quan in the near future.”

While the officials are helping students, the mother is still seeking support. According to a news report, Lillie Cortez, the mother of the deceased, said on Thursday, details are still sparse about what happened to her son. She also was unsure why her son was walking to school because he typically took the bus to school. Lillie believes her son must have missed the bus the day he was hit.

She said, “His bus usually comes at six. So, I’m thinking, I went back in my room. I am thinking the bus done come and done gone.”

She continued, “Then probably like 6:40 or 6:50, my daughter comes knocking on my room door telling me that the sheriff and stuff was outside wanting to talk with me. And then they asked me was Jaquan my son, and I been like, yes. And then they were like he was in an accident. No, they said he got hit. I’m like, okay. Is he all right? And they like, no; he died. And that was it what they told me,” the mom said.

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