BUTLER COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Students and staff at Fort Dale Academy in Greenville are coping with the tragic loss of a tenth grader killed in a car accident, leaving the school and community devastated. Carter Boswell, 16, a sophomore, died Saturday night in a crash on County Road 50, east of Greenville's city limits.
Boswell started attending Fort Dale Academy when he was three years old, school administrators said, and he was close with many of his classmates.
On Monday, students made a makeshift memorial for him at the spot where he used to park every day, setting out flowers, candles, and personal mementos.
"We got some chalk and wrote some messages to him. He played basketball and soccer and his soccer cleats and basketball shoes were left there," said Caroline Wood, a fellow sophomore and close friend.
"It's an extremely difficult time in our school. We lost a very wonderful, fine young man," added Headmaster David Brantley. "He was in his thirteenth year here as a student. It's a tremendous loss for our school and obviously a loss individually for our students. We are trying to make sure that we care for the students and we show them love and support."
The single-vehicle accident happened at 11:50 p.m. on April 22. Boswell sustained fatal injuries when the 2008 GMC Sierra truck in which he was a passenger ran off the roadway and struck a tree, according to Alabama State Troopers.
"The teen, who was not using a seat belt, was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene," troopers said in a press release.
The driver of the truck, who is also a teen and is a former student at Fort Dale Academy, was not injured. The crash remains under investigation.
Wood says the teens were on their way home from a friend's house.
"Carter is absolutely amazing and I love him. He has always been there for me as a brother. He was a special person. He always made me laugh," she said.
At his parking spot outside, students hugged each other, cried together and shared memories of the teen.
"Mostly our classmates it's been hard for just because we were all so close to him and we're such a small school and it's hard to believe it, mostly. You just don't think it's real sometimes. We have to be there for each other just because that's the only way that makes things better," Wood added.
The school held a prayer assembly Monday morning, led by a local minister who offered comforting words. The student body prayed for the Boswell family, as well as the driver of the vehicle and other students who stopped to help at the scene of the fatal accident.
Brantley indicated they were behind the truck Boswell was in at the time of the crash, because they were also on their way back to town. They were commended for what they did to provide assistance as they waited for first responders to get there.
"It was a tragic situation and they witnessed the soon aftermath. It's my understanding that some of their efforts there were heroic. They were there before the authorities were able to get there so they had to assume the role of an adult during that time," he explained. "They were there to help with traffic and other issues and they really did a great job. "
Counselors and ministers are on hand at the school and teachers are also providing support for grieving students.
"We're heartbroken. We truly are a close knit family here. I felt quite an urge to be here this morning and be surrounded by the Fort Dale family and I think we all felt that way because we can lean on each other. It's shocking and devastating so we're just here to show our love for the kids and offer compassion," said teacher Callie Lawhon.
Lawhon, a health and student success instructor, taught Carter Boswell when he was in the eighth and ninth grade.
"He was a good student and he was involved in sports. He was just a fun-loving guy who always had a smile on his face and always making people laugh. He was just a joy to be around," she added.
Boswell's funeral is set for Thursday at 3 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Greenville, school officials said. Visitation will be at 1 p.m.
A youth service will be held Wednesday at Southside Baptist Church at 6:30 p.m.
Classmates said the accident has them thinking more about safety when they get behind the wheel.
"You have to always just buckle up, don't text. You've got to put those things in your head and I hope people remember that after this happened," Caroline Wood said.
The crash involving the teens was not the only deadly incident on Butler County roadways over the weekend.
On Sunday, April 23, Christopher O'Neil Smith, 26, of Greenville, was killed when the 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe he was driving left the roadway and overturned. Smith, who was not using a seat belt, was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene, troopers said. The crash occurred at 12:45 a.m. on Airport Road three miles north of Greenville.
The circumstances surrounding the crash are still under investigation, but in a press release Sunday, troopers stated that their preliminary investigation indicates alcohol was a factor in the wreck.