One a high-schooler, the other a father of two
The Wewahitchka community was rocked over the weekend after two men died in a head-on collision on State 22 early Saturday.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, two Chevy C1500s collided head-on just east of Longleaf Road shortly after 6 a.m. CT Saturday.
The drivers, Jonathan Foster, 17, a popular student at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School, and Joseph “Kyle” Rich, 32 and the father of two, were both pronounced dead at the scene.
The FHP reported thast Foster was traveling east and Rich was traveling west pulling a trailer when the trucks collided.
“They hit left headlight to left headlight,” said FHP Master Sgt. James Johnson. “Speed was not a factor.”
The highway was closed for nearly four hours while FHP crews completed their initial investigation and clean-up was completed.
The deaths hit the Wewahitchka community hard.
Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School students organized a prayer-around-the-flagpole Monday morning prior to first bell to honor the men and provide support for family and friends.
In addition, students wore blue on Tuesday in memory of Foster.
Wednesday night, a candlelight vigil and memorial service for Foster was held at the school football field.
“The saddest part is we did not just lose a football player, weightlifter, student and friend, we lost a young man that made every day in this world a better place to be,” Wewahitchka Athletic Director Bobby Johns wrote on the Gators’ Facebook page.
“In a short 17 years, Jonathan Foster touched many lives and made a mark on the Wewa community that will last forever.”
Johns noted he had only coached Foster for one year, but already came to love him as one of his children. Foster, he added, was a leader and coud be counted on to undertake whatever was required to bring success.
“The impact (Foster) had on my life cannot be measured,” Johns wrote. “Our team, school and community will mourn our loss for a very long time.”
In an email to school employees, Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton also wrestled with tragedy.
“The Wewahitchka community lost two very special young men,” Norton said, describing Foster as “just an all-around great kid.”
He said he takes solace in scripture that “refers to the fact that life is but a vapor and we should cherish it because things can change quickly and unexpectedly.”