Parents, sister remain hospitalized
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A Saturday morning (October 3) crash on Florida Highway 97, just south of Walnut Hill, claimed the life of an 11-year-old Atmore boy and left his parents and sister hospitalized.
Jaden James, a sixth-grade student at Flomaton Elementary School who planned to join the clergy when he reached adulthood, was airlifted from the wreck site to a Pensacola, Fla. hospital and later passed away as a result of injuries he suffered.
His parents, Jermaine and Lashelby James, were each also airlifted from the site of the wreck, just south of Walnut Hill, to a Pensacola hospital with critical injuries, and his 9-year-old sister, who suffered serious injuries, was taken to the same hospital by ambulance.
Florida Highway Patrol reports, which no longer include the names of accident victims, show that a 43-year old male (Jermaine James) was driving the family’s Mitsubishi Outlander and was waiting to make a left turn into a residential driveway, around 9:12 a.m.
The investigating trooper reported that a 16-year-old male from Molino, southbound in a GMC Sierra, pulled into the northbound lane in an attempt to pass other traffic in a no-passing zone. The heavy-duty pickup slammed into the left rear of the Mitsubishi, injuring all four family members.
Expressions of grief from teachers were shared by Flomaton Elementary Principal George Brown on the school’s Facebook page. Not only was Jaden a popular student at FES, but his mother works in the school cafeteria and his sister is also a student there. Jaden’s father works for West Fraser Mills in McDavid.
“Jaden James described in one word — CHRISTIAN!” wrote Blaire Singleton, one of Jaden’s teachers. “He unapologetically loved the Lord and wanted to be a preacher when he grew up. He had a heart of gold and the sweetest, most humble spirit. Jaden was shy but when he smiled, he would light up a room.
“He loved his family and friends and never missed an opportunity to help any way he could. His classmates always knew they could count on him.
“He is THE shining example of our school motto – respect others, work hard, make good decisions, smile a lot, and love other people. That was Jaden James every day! I am forever grateful for knowing him because to know him was to love him.”
Leslie Wedgeworth, who taught Jaden in the third grade, expressed similar feelings.
“Not a day went by that he didn’t come in smiling.” She wrote. “He had a servant’s heart – always willing and wanting to help. You didn’t hear much out of Jaden, but when you did, you better listen! All the kids loved him, and he was a teacher’s dream.
“I would always joke with Lashelby at lunch because he was honestly just too good to be true! He was smart, kind, happy, and funny. Jaden had a bright future ahead of him, but Heaven needed him more. Flomaton Elementary is a better place because Jaden was a part of it. He will forever be one of us.”
Brown, who asked for prayers for the entire family, said additional counselors were on hand at FES on Monday to help students “grieve the loss of one of our own.”
Reports show that the driver of the pickup was not injured, and a 16-year old male passenger in the truck was taken by ambulance to the hospital with only minor injuries.
Highway 97 was closed all day Saturday as FHP officers continued their investigation into the fatal crash. Troopers had not by early Tuesday replied to an emailed query as to what, if any, charges would be filed against the teen driver.