Teen killed while driving to fundraiser


Published: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:22 a.m.

A Fort White High School student died on his way to a baseball fundraiser when his pickup crashed in Columbia County on Tuesday evening, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

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Joshua G. Barton, 17

Courtesy of Fort White High School

Killed was Joshua G. Barton, 17, of Fort White, according to troopers.

The crash occurred on County Road 131, about a half mile south of County Road 240 and seven miles south of Lake City, at approximately 5:45 p.m.

Joshua had been headed to a fundraising event for the school's baseball team at Phish Heads restaurant in Lake City, 1445 SW Main Blvd.

Students, coaches and others were already gathered at the business, said Philip Crenshaw, who along with his wife own the restaurant.

Joshua apparently lost control of the pickup he was driving as he was heading north on CR 131, troopers reported.

The pickup traveled partially off the road, and Joshua swerved back to the left in an attempt to get back on the road. Instead, the pickup swerved back and forth with Joshua again trying to get the vehicle back on the road.

His vehicle hit a small tree, causing the pickup to start rotating, troopers reported. The pickup hit another tree and went through a fence as it overturned.

The cause of the crash remained under investigation Wednesday. It could take up to three months before it is completed, said FHP Lt. Patrick Riordan.

"They are going to look at a lot of different factors," Riordan said about the focus of the investigation.

Troopers did report that alcohol is not suspected to be a factor in the single-vehicle accident. Joshua was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

Hundreds of students gathered Wednesday at the school flagpole in remembrance of the junior, according to school officials.

Staff were trying to help students cope. "We've kind of been flexible today with classes and everything and trying to help everyone deal with the grief as best they can," said Principal Keith Hatcher. Some students left school early.

A memorial service is scheduled at the school's gymnasium at 2 p.m. Saturday, Hatcher said.

The teenager was a second baseman for the school's baseball team and also played on the soccer team. He was actively involved in Future Farmers of America, Hatcher said.

The principal said he went to the restaurant after learning about the crash.

After Joshua left varsity baseball practice Tuesday afternoon, he headed home to change before setting out for the restaurant, Hatcher said. He was to meet family there.

"He was a great kid. Everybody's going to miss him," Hatcher said.

The crash is the first traffic fatality reported by FHP in the county this year.

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