By Megan Boatwright
Channel 3 Eyewitness News Reporter
MCMINN COUNTY (WRCB) - Liberty Christian Academy will begin the year by saying good-bye to one of their own. Fifteen-year-old Heath Henley was riding his dirt bike Monday, when he crashed and died.
Henley was part of a small Christian school in McMinn County. The family has decided to hold his funeral at Liberty Church of Jesus Christ, so Henley's friends and fellow students can be pall-bearers.
"We're like a family," says Liberty Christian School Principal, Jason Kennedy. "Our kids are all like family."
As families and tight knit communities do, the students and faculty at Liberty Christian School are pulling together after learning of the tragic accident that took 15-year-old Heath Henley's life Monday.
"He had a new dirt bike, I think," says Kennedy. "Some of the other kids told me he had a new dirt bike. He really liked to ride it."
Neighbors say they often saw Henley riding his motorcycle down Butler Road. Kennedy told Channel 3 Henley had gone out for that last ride of the day Monday afternoon.
Police reports say the 15-year-old probably took the curve in the road to fast. He suffered severe chest trauma from the crash.
"The funeral is going to be here Thursday," says Kennedy. "It's our first day back at school, but the students want to be here. Our high school kids want to be at the funeral."
The classroom Henley was a part of last year is still empty Tuesday, because school at Liberty Christian will begin Thursday.
The 79 students will begin their school year with a funeral. "It makes kids start asking questions," says Kennedy. "Was I friendly enough the last time I talked to Heath?"
The principal knows he'll face with some tough questions, but says it will be good for everyone to remember the person Henley was.
"He was always happy," says Kennedy. "He was that kid. He was always happy. Other kids liked to be around him."
A wake for Henley will be held at the Ziegler Funeral Home in Athens Wednesday from 4:00-8:00 p.m. His funeral is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Thursday at the Liberty Church of Jesus Christ.