"A character and a half;" Heritage HS junior dies in car wreck - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

"A character and a half;" Heritage HS junior dies in car wreck

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CATOOSA COUNTY, GA. (WRCB) -- Some teenagers might find it easy to blend in, on a campus as large as Heritage High School in Ringgold.

Not 17-year-old Jesse Tyler Clark.

"He was a character-and-a-half," his best friend, Thomas Prescott, says. "He was always smiling and laughing about something. Or mad 'cause he was getting lunch detention."

"Many of his teachers say one day he's driving us crazy and the next day, we're just laughing hysterically at him," Heritage Principal Ronnie Bradford recalls.

A 'good ol' boy who'd rather hook a fish than crack a book. The big kid who never needed an invitation to fire up a four-wheel-drive and go 'muddin.'

"Last Thursday, we all got stuck and the truck messed up," Prescott smiles. "We all had to walk back, all the way down the road, that was the last time I seen (sic) him."

He figured Jesse's mother had grounded him when a girl in his class texted him Sunday.

"At first, I thought it as a cruel joke."

Jesse had been killed, driving home on GA 151 (Alabama Highway) late Saturday night. The Georgia State Patrol's incident report describes it as an 'over-correction' after passing another car on the two-lane straightaway. The right wheels slipped off the pavement, and an uncontrolled spin sent the vehicle across the road and down the embankment, into a rollover before slamming into a tree.

Neither Jesse nor his friend, 19-year-old Dakota Basham, wore seatbelts. But Basham survived.

"You want to think, how can you help these kids right now, to help them through the grieving process," Bradford asks.

He wouldn't have to wait long Monday morning.

"We had a moment of silence," he says. "They cried together. We laughed. And told stories."

By mid-Monday afternoon, the Facebook page, "In Loving Memory Of Jesse Clark" would have more than three dozen photos and three times as many message postings.  Students would fill two murals with signatures and salutations, one ringing especially true: "Please Report to the Office."

"He was always late to class," Prescott explains. "He'd scratching his stomach, and the teachers would say--you're late--and he'd say yes, I know. He'd go from class to class and get notes from teachers, just so he wouldn't get marked absent or tardy."

Brother Brandon Clark is a senior at Heritage.

"He (Jesse) always wanted to be like Brandon," Prescott says. 

"You could see how both of them were becoming fine young men," Bradford says. "I'm sorry we won't get to see the man Jesse would have become."

"He worked hard at his after-school jobs. He wanted to be a welder, loved working with his hands." 

Friends plan to honor his love of hunting and camping in how they dress for his visitation Tuesday, and services Wednesday; in camouflage.

"I want his Mother to know he was raised right," Prescott says. "He pulled me up a lot. Any time you needed him, all you had to do was holler, and he'd come help you."

Jesse Tyler Clark
June 13, 1995 - March 2, 2013
Receiving of Friends: 2-4PM , 5-8PM  Tuesday  
Services:  2PM Wednesday at Heritage Funeral Home at 3239 Battlefield Parkway, Fort Oglethorpe.

Click here to view his memorial Facebook page.

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