SALUDA COUNTY, SC (WRDW/WAGT) - Dozens of Saluda High School students showed up at a memorial to pay respects to their friends who died in a car accident.
It’s a growing memorial, and a spot that seems to be an outlet for their friends.
Early Tuesday, all that was there were bits of the tree the three boys crashed into, but now, friends of the teenagers have filled the area with something more positive -- pictures, love and prayers.
Jay Black says he was best friends with Drayton Black. They hung out just about every day.
“We were closer than blood,” Jay said. “This is our little group.”
Jay never thought he’d be standing beside a memorial for his fallen friend.
“This was his jacket,” Jay said. “He gave it to me a couple days ago to go duck hunting in. And I’m gonna give his mama my chain for him to be buried in.”
His other friends, like Forrest Winn, remember Drayton as a fun-loving and loyal friend who played baseball and loved the outdoors.
“I played with him,” Winn said. “He was a heck of an athlete.”
“The night of the wreck, he was supposed to go coon hunting with me,” Winn said. “It was my biggest regret that I didn’t call him to go.”
The Saluda community was still on a high from winning the football state championship -- a team Jaden Coleman played on.
Now that this group is missing two members, they're leaning on their faith to ease some of the pain.
“We’ll never get over it, but we’ll be together again one day,” one student said. “And when that day comes, we all will embrace each other just like we would down here.”
And remembering Jaden and Drayton in a way they’d want to be remembered.
“That boy lived his life to the fullest,” another student said. “I’ll tell you that.”
One of the students also said Drayton had been in another bad wreck a few years ago. They said Drayton told his mom if he had not survived, he knows he would have ended up in heaven.
His friends know that's where he is now.
Funeral arrangements are still in the early stages, but Drayton’s funeral is currently scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 1 at 11 a.m. at the Saluda High School gymnasium. There will be no formal visitation; however, there will be an opportunity to pay respects to Drayton from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday prior to the service.