Florala mourns loss of student

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 8, 2003

A one vehicle wreck in Covington County Sunday afternoon claimed the life of a 16-year-old Lockhart resident.

According to a spokesperson with the Alabama State Troopers, 16-year-old Benjamin Jermaine "B.J." Barrett, a popular student-athlete at Florala High School, was killed in the wreck, which occurred at approximately 1:40 p.m. on County Road 4.

Barrett, who played football and basketball at Florala High, was the only occupant in the car, a 1996 Honda.

He is survived by his mother, Ramona Barrett and his father, Tony Stone, as well as other relatives and numerous friends.

Funeral services have been set for Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. at the Florala High School gymnasium.

There will be no visitation.

Florala High Principal Terry Holley said students were coping with the tragedy involving Barrett as well as possible.

"The students here are doing as well as could be expected," said Holley. "We have had a local pastor here to talk with the kids and counselors are also available. We have people here to talk to the students as well as our resource officer."

He said several things stand out in his mind about Barrett.

"B.J. was a great role model, was a good student and a good person," said Holley. "He was very active in his local church and he was really admired on and off our campus."

Holley said Barrett was also well blessed in terms of his family and athletic ability.

"(Barrett's) mother is well-liked in the community as is his whole family," said Holley. "He was also a good athlete and was very gifted in sports."

He noted that Barrett's death is the first one he has had to deal with regarding a student still at the school, although he added that within the past year or so the school has had to deal with deaths of former graduates.

Florala High School coach and teacher Brent Zessin also had nothing but complimentary things to say about Barrett.

"(Barrett) was a fine person and a good role model in our school," said Zessin. "He was one of our top athletes and he was one of our top students as well. He never was any problem to any of the teachers and he was from a fine family."

Zessin noted that Barrett had fine athletic abilities, and that in the final basketball game he played for the FHS Wildcats, he scored 32 points.

"He probably would have been a college player," said Zessin of Barrett.

Zessin said Barrett's death has been a jolt to the FHS student body, but said the students are doing their best to remember the student-athlete in a positive manner.

"The students are coping and (were)doing better as the day went on," said Zessin. "There is a memorial that some people have made in (Barrett's) locker and students have written letters (about Barrett) so they're doing pretty well. We will definitely miss him, not only as a student and athlete, but as a person too."

State Trooper Jason Burch responded to the scene and the trooper spokesperson said the wreck is still under investigation.

An attempt to reach Burch on Monday was unsuccessful.