BELLE, W.Va. — There were tears and some smiles Monday night as a community came together to mourn a life cut short.
Family, friends and almost the entire community of Belle met on the Riverside High School football field to light a candle in honor of 16-year-old Collin Qualls.
“Things like this bring the community together and it’s good to see everybody come and just love each other and just get together to remember all the good memories that we had with Collin,” said Collin’s best friend, Jordan Glover.
Qualls died last week when the vehicle he was riding in crashed on Hughes Creek Road near Belle. He was set to start his junior year at Riverside High next month.
Riverside principal Valery Harper said this is a tough loss for everyone in the community because of Collin’s popularity and easy-going disposition.
“Collin was a go-lucky kid, he had a smile on his face and really easy to talk to,” said Harper. “He was that type of boy that you could walk up and have a conversation about anything with him.”
Qualls’ impact was evident by the crowd that gathered on the field.
Emily Igo said Collin was a great influence on his and other classes at Riverside High.
“Sometimes when you were just really upset about something or class sucked—or maybe you got in a fight with your friends or anything like that—and you just saw him walking down the hall, he would smile, stop and make sure, if you looked upset, that you had a good day,” said Igo. “You knew somebody was in your corner.”
As the masses remembered Qualls, four other teenagers continued to recover at the hospital from injuries sustained from the crash. One of them was the driver of the car, who state police said could be facing DUI charges.
Harper said there is a lesson to be learned from this.
“Life is precious and we all have to be very careful just to make good choices so that we can have a long life,” she said.
Glover said he understands that lesson.
“It’s taught me to love all my friends and never take anything for granted,” he said. “Just love each other and don’t fight over stupid things because you never know when you are going to lose someone.”