BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. - An Adairsville High School student was hit and killed by a vehicle before his last band competition this weekend.
Larry Gardner, 17, died Saturday morning near Old Highway 41 and Manning Mill Road after a vehicle hit him, according to a news release sent out by the Bartow County School District.
The news release stated that Gardner was on his way to Adairsville High School to join his bandmates for their last band competition of the year in Carrollton. The school immediately canceled the trip after learning of the fatal accident.
"He loved the lord, and he loved church, and he loved to prayer, and he loved to sing, and he loved to play, and he loved to perform, and he loved to do all these different kinds of things... it was just remarkable to see. And even in his passing, it's been even more remarkable to see how significant of a life he lived at his short age," said Larry Gardner, the boy's father.
Gardner was a senior and known as the 'Soul of the Adairsville High School Marching Band,’ according to Bartow County Schools. The school system added that Gardner was an Honors and AP student and a standout member of the Adairsville High School Marching Band Drumline.
"This is a devastating loss to our band, school, and community," said Adairsville High School Principal Bruce Mulkey. "He had an unbelievable spirit. I'll remember that most. If he had a bad day, you would have never known it. He had a smile on his face every time I passed him. Larry's energy and enthusiasm were just as contagious as his smile."
Adairsville High School Band Director Dr. Kerry Bryant said, "Meeting Larry when he was in seventh-grade was a memorable experience. His talent, even at such a young age, was remarkable; better than most adults. In my 29 years of experience, you don't meet too many kids like that!"
Georgia State Patrol said 31-year-old Nixon Sellers, who was driving a Dodge Durango, hit Larry around 7:30 a.m. from the rear with his front left bumper, killing the teen. Mr. Gardner said he actually came face-to-face with the driver.
"All I did was hug him. I told him I loved him. I said, 'Dude, this was an accident, you can't control this.' I said, 'If you don't remember anything else, God loves you," said Mr. Gardner.
Charges are pending the outcome of the investigation, according to GSP.
"Yes, it hurts. Yes, it sucks it went down the way it went down. But at the end of the day, live and move forward. Live like Larry," said Mr. Gardner.
Bartow County Schools said guidance counselors and ministers were on hand at the school Monday morning. A fund has also been set up at Northside Bank in Adairsville to assist the Gardner family.