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Carpenter, Neal were best friends

In life, and now in death, Evan Carpenter and Levi Neal were best friends who did everything together.

Evan Carpenter

The two were described as inseparable, so when the invitation came from Carpenter’s family to accompany them on a Mother’s Day canoeing trip on Blackwater River, Neal was there. And when it was time to go, the two – along with Carpenter’s brother Hunter – climbed into the back of the pickup truck for the ride home.

Unfortunately, the day ended tragically when the pickup left the roadway and flipped twice. Carpenter was pronounced dead at North Okaloosa Medical Center, and Neal was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital, where he later died.

Family and friends of the boys described them as “fun-loving” teens who “loved life.”

“Those boys did everything together,” said one of Carpenter’s family members, who asked not to be named. “We’re all in such shock. You just can’t believe something like this would happen, let alone to your family. We just can’t comprehend what happened.”

Levi Neal

“Evan was what you’d call a ‘southern boy,’” she said. “He loved to go hunting, fishing, anything outside. He loved to ride four-wheelers, getting all muddy.

“And sports, mercy he loved sports,” she said. “He was such a good kid, you couldn’t ask for better. He loved life. He always had a smile on his face. We’ll miss that.”

The same can be said for Neal, said Jamie Keith, a fellow student at RLHS.

“Levi loved sports,” Keith said. “He was No. 58 in football. He played basketball and baseball. He was really funny. He was always smiling and making people smile.

“There was never a dull moment with him around,” she said. “He was sweet and kind. He was amazing. His personality was so good.”

Like his best friend, sports, hunting and fishing were also Neal’s passion, she said.

“He loved to be outside, doing something,” she said.

The boys were students at Red Level High School – Carpenter in seventh grade, Neal in the ninth.

Covington County Schools superintendent Terry Holley said students were informed of the accident at a general assembly Monday morning before classes began. Counselors and pastors have been brought in to assist students.

“We’re doing what we can to help with the healing process after this tragic accident,” Holley said.

At present, no funeral arrangements have been made; however, to help the families with the costs of burial, a fund has been set up at Superior Bank and donation buckets set out at Wiggins Barber Shop in Andalusia and Gantt’s Gator Grocery.

Carpenter was the son of Dena and Steve Padgett of Red Level and Anthony “Tater” Carpenter of Andalusia.

Neal was the son of Michael and Donna Neal of Red Level.