FFA state champ, 16, killed in crash two weeks before next compe - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

FFA state champ, 16, killed in crash two weeks before next competition

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RINGGOLD, GA (WRCB) - It's been a tough week for Heritage High School. Students and teachers are remembering sophomore Cody Hughes, a 16-year-old teachers described as a good student and an all-around good kid.

Tennessee Highway Patrol said Hughes was driving along an S-curve on Highway 27 in Marion County, when he lost control of his car, overcorrected and landed in a ditch.

It's easy to see Hughes was a big part of HHS. The memories are now in stone. Messages from students, written on river stones, were being left in the creek behind the school. It's one of several memorials students set up for the teen.

It's a special spot for agriculture teacher, Brandon Ray. He sometimes holds class there on the creek, and said Hughes was a star student.

"It's tough to lose any student," said Ray. "But somebody as active as that, that gets involved and pushes everybody else to be better -- it's tough."

Ray is the school's FFA sponsor, and said the sophomore was a state champion who was set to compete for another title in two weeks.

"He worked hard, and his hard work showed," said Ray. "It really affected the team."

Hughes' positive attitude influenced not only his team, but just about everyone around him, said Principal Ronnie Bradford.

"I think we're trying to get through it in stages," Bradford said. "Sharing stories, memories and crying together."

Bradford said the teen's family is well-known throughout the schools. Hughes' older brother is an HHS graduate, his younger sister goes to Heritage Middle, and numerous cousins and family members attend or are employed in the school system.

Hughes, an honor student, had dreams of becoming a diesel mechanic. He always took pride in his pickup truck. But most importantly, Ray said, the teen treated everyone with respect.

"That respect went a long way," he said. "It rubbed off on the kids; it rubbed off on me."

They're lessons a 16-year-old taught his own teachers, and a legacy that no one will soon forget. Especially when Ray brings class back to the creek bed.

"When I come down here every time now, it's gonna be hard not to think of him," he said. "And all the memories he left here at Heritage High School."

Hughes was wearing a seatbelt, but died on the scene. Police said alcohol or drugs were not factors in the crash.
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