COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Heathwood Hall Episcopal School is mourning one of their students this week after he died in an ATV crash Saturday night.
Jake Clarkson, a junior at Heathwood, was a multi-sport athlete, loved by many.
Deputies say the incident happened somewhere in the woods along Bluff Road around 11 p.m. Saturday. Due to the lack of witnesses at the location, Richland County deputies say there was no way to determine where the actual incident took place.
Hundreds of Jake Clarkson’s classmates came to school Monday morning wearing camouflage, in his honor because he is a lover of the outdoors. A chapel service was also held for students Monday morning.
“Jake loves the outdoors and loves everything to do with nature. It was a way to recognize and remember him and it was pretty touching to see the whole upper school decked out in camo.” George Scouten, Head of Heathwood Upper School and Assistant Head of School said. “There were a lot of tears this morning and it’s been hard because it was so sudden and so unexpected and you have a kid who is so full of life who doesn’t have that anymore so it has been a really hard morning but on the other hand being able to come together and prayer and tell stories and hug one another we are grateful to have this community and blessed to have Heathwood Hall.”
The school’s soccer team described Clarkson as “an amazing young man, thoughtful, caring, with an infectious personality” on their Twitter account.
Jake was also was a wrestler and a member of the schools sporting clays team.
Andrew Richardson, Assistant Athletic Director, and Head Boys Varsity Soccer Coach said, “It’s been incredibly difficult. He was popular in the best sense of the word. There’s probably not a student here that doesn’t have a fun story about him.”
Damion Patterson, another one of Jake’s soccer coach described Jake as a “very happy loving kid, always smiling, never had a bad day which is why I loved him.”
From those who coached Jake, to the students who sat next to him in class, felt the emptiness after the three-sport athlete was killed in an ATV crash Saturday night.
“It’s the phone call you never want to wake up to,” Richardson said. “You look down at your phone and you see it’s not your typical time for getting a phone call you start to panic, and as the coach of a high school kid you always start to worry.”
As students mourn and hold on to each other, number 8 is laid to rest.
“As long as I’m here no one is going to wear number 8 in our program,” Richardson said. “Right now it’s still the shock of not having him here but as time goes on and you get a chance to reflect the only thing that will come to mind are the really good things.”
Richardson says there could possibly be a scholarship fund that will be made in Jake’s name for the future.
Clarkson’s funeral will be held Thursday. School officials say there are grief counselors available on campus.
Heathwood Hall Head of School Chris Hinchey released a statement saying:
“The Heathwood Hall community is grieving over the loss of Jake Clarkson, and our hearts ache for his friends and family. Jake joined our school in 2008 as a kindergartener, and the Clarksons (Chip and Glenda) joined our community in 2006 when their son, Lane (class of 2019) enrolled in the Kindergarten.” It is difficult to lose a young person like Jake – so full of life – and to watch his friends grapple with his absence. Our community will find strength in our faith, our relationships, and our love of one another.”
Clarkson is the second Midlands student-athlete to die in an ATV accident this year following Fairfield Central’s CJ Simmons who died in May.