Gadsden County Says Goodbye to Teen Killed in Car Crash

By: Jennifer Milton Email
By: Jennifer Milton Email

Updated 4:30pm by Jennifer Milton

"He was a very extraordinary young man. We watched him grow up from a baby to his first college years. He was the type of young man that didn't mind following instructions. He was very humble, he loved life and he loved people, he loved his family," said Austin Ford.

Relatives and friends piled into the East Gadsden High School gym to celebrate the life of 18-year-old De'Erick McCray. The Florida State University Freshman's life was cut short following a head on collision on High Bridge Road on January 5th.

McCray touched the lives of hundreds during his few short years on earth, and now they gather to say goodbye to the teen who had his whole life ahead of him.

"It's always hard to lose a child that is so young and so bright," said Ford.

Relatives say McCray was born in Gadsden County, played several sports and was an electrical engineering major. He's also described as having a great sense of humor and always lit up a room.

"People like De'Erick don't come around often," said Ford.

Those who knew him best say there just won't be another person like him.

Relatives say McCray was an honor student from elementary through high school and was captain of East Gadsden High School's baseball team.

McCray was buried at the Sunnyvale Cemetery in Quincy.
UPDATED 1/6 at 11:15pm By Candace Sweat

Students at Florida State University gather for a vigil as they mourn the loss of one of their own.

DeErick McCray was a son, a brother, and a friend to so many people, and the impact he had on those he knew showed Thursday night on FSU's campus as students, family, and faculty gathered in his honor.

Authorities say 18-year-old McCray was traveling on High Bridge Road Wednesday night when the car he was driving veered off the road, causing him to over correct and collide head-on into another car. He died on the scene.

McCray was a graduate of East Gadsden High School and a freshman at FSU. On Thursday several dozen people gathered just yards away from the Black Student Union, an organization he was heavily involved with on campus, to share their memories and give words of encouragement.

His friends say it's overwhelming to see how many lives he touched.

"I'm shocked at the turnout. He really touched a lot of people. It's kind of scary, like somebody said earlier, how he could impact so many people in just a semester," said McCary's friend Larry Edwards.

Many of his friends say they know DeErick would not want to see them sad, so they will try to celebrate his life instead of mourn his death. And to help them with that process, there was a grief counselor on sight.

DeErick's mother was not in attendance at the vigil, but she was also on peoples' minds and hearts.

His friends passed around a jar and asked for donations to help his family with expenses for his funeral. It was the same jar they had used to vote for McCray when he won the Black Student Union Pageant.

His friends say it's overwhelming to see how many lives he touched.

An accident claims the life of an 18 year old, and his death is sending shockwaves across county lines. The crash has left old friends at East Gadsden High, and new ones at FSU in mourning.

WCTV talked to a lot of people in Gadsden County and Tallahassee and some of them told me it was hard for them to get out of bed today, because they couldn't believe this would be their first day without De'Erick McCray. At his high school, it was hard to talk to anyone without them tearing up. Many people told me he was the kind of guy everyone loved.

Friend Jamia Mcnealy says, "It's been real hard to know that my best friend is gone...."

De'Erick McCray, 18, died in a two car accident Wednesday night. The FHP report says he was driving on High Bridge Road in Midway when he veered off the road, over corrected, then collided head on with another driver.

Friend Ebony Johnson says, "He had a lot of plans and a lot of goals and for that to be taken away from him it goes to show you a lot of us that you know, don't take anything for granted."

McMcray graduated from East Gadsden High last spring and his death is really stirring up emotions with many in the community.

Joan Belle-McGlockton, East Gadsden Principal, says, "He was a very loving very kind very nurturing. Everyone loved De'Erick."

"When he walked into a room he lit up the room. His favorite thing in life was to make people happy."

Shaia Beckwith James, a close family friend, says, "He was just a wonderful young man that has positively impacted everyone he came in contact with and it's clear and evident through the pain of our loss but through the wonderful things people can say about De'Erick."

Mcnealy says she will miss so many things about him. "..The advice he gave and the hugs when you really needed it."

Substitute teachers had to be called in for some of McCray's favorite high school teachers today. To give you an idea of what kind of guy De'Erick was, he was actually over at East Gadsden over the holidays, delivering a birthday cake to one of his former teachers.

A memorial is being held this evening at FSU in his honor.


[UPDATE] 1-6 Noon --

A two car accident claims the life of a beloved FSU student and leaves an entire community in mourning.

Eyewitness News was at East Gadsden High School where De'Erick McCray graduated last Spring. Students, faculty and staff tell us he was an amazing student and wonderful person. In fact, substitute teachers are here filling in for some of McCray's favorite teachers who are taking the news really hard.

18-year-old McCray died last night (1/5/11) in a two car crash around 6:20 p.m. The FHP report says McCray was driving on High Bridge Road in Midway, when he over-corrected and crashed head on with another vehicle. We are told the driver of the other car survived with minor injuries and school administrators say 23-year-old Travis Brown was also a former student at East Gadsden who graduated in 2006 and the two were friends.

McCray held the title of Mr. Black FSU and was very much liked by students. Both schools are planning memorials. FSU students plan to hold a memorial tonight at 7 p.m. at the Black Student Union House on campus.

We'll have a full report on the accident and the life that was lost tonight on Eyewitness News.


[UPDATE] 1-6 6:00AM --

A two-car crash claims the life of a Florida State University student.

Officials say it happened yesterday, Jan. 5, around 6:20PM. 18-year old De'Erick McCray died when his vehicle collided with another vehicle in the area of High Bridge Road in Midway, just past Joe Adams Road. De'Erick was a 2010 graduate of East Gadsden High School.

Several family members and friends were gathered at the site of the crash. Peers have created memorial pages for the popular FSU undergrad on Facebook and say that he will be truly missed.


Gadsden County, FL - Gadsden County officials say a two car accident on the corner of High Bridge Road and Joe Adams Road has proved to be fatal. Authorities say the fatality involves a former Gadsden County high school student, but no name has been released.

Details are scarce at this point as crews continue to clean the scene of wreckage. Both lanes of traffic on High Bridge Road are being detoured from the area.

The accident happened around 6:20pm on a wet Wednesday, but there is no word as to what has caused the accident.

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  • by Al'Tianna Location: Quincy on Aug 10, 2011 at 01:15 PM
    R.I.P De'Erick I Think About You Every Day & Its Sad To Kno Your Gone But I Kno You Are In A Better Place . Little Sister Misses & Loves You :(
  • by LANTA McCRAY Location: quincy on Feb 10, 2011 at 08:11 AM
  • by Te'Ericka on Feb 2, 2011 at 05:09 AM
    I Love you Dee...R.I.P Dee you will forevever be missed in my heart! UBP bro and sis always!
  • by Ya Ya Location: Tallahassee on Jan 17, 2011 at 03:36 PM
    My you rest in eternal peace and your family blessed with love and kindness.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 17, 2011 at 02:56 PM
    Sounds like De'Erick was truly a much loved child of God. My prayers to his mom, who must be such a special lady to have raised such a loved son, and the rest of his family and friends. Truly a sad loss.
  • by Morhonda Location: Quincy on Jan 16, 2011 at 06:01 AM
    I know Erica but I didnt know her son but my daughter did and all Ive heard was good things about him.I know he will be missed.And now he is in a better places.But God is watching us all. And this world has to straighten up now.
  • by FSU Student Location: Tallahassee on Jan 15, 2011 at 09:47 PM
    The last time I saw him he spoke to me and said "sup folk" he had a smile on his face and that's exactly how I want to remember him forever. Sleep with the angels :)
  • by Dee Location: quincy, fl on Jan 15, 2011 at 07:30 PM
    My prayers go out to the family of De'Erick McCray. I see nothing but positive comments about De'Erick and it is a tragic to know how someone so young and full of life with positive affect on others could have his life end so early. I pray that time will allow the family to heal, as it is very hard having to loose a loved one. The LORD called a young man home that is now above watching down on those he's left behind and making sure his family and friends here know that he is watching down on them. GOD be with the family. You are in my prayers.
  • by TallyTrashTalks2 Location: Tallahassee on Jan 15, 2011 at 05:00 PM
    My deepest sympathy to the family and friends of De'Erick. The loss of such a wonderful young man with so much more left to offer the world if heart-breaking. Hold your memories so tightly, that through the tears, as you think of his remarkable impact on others you can't help but smile a little.
  • by steve Location: tall on Jan 15, 2011 at 03:58 PM
    Sorry to hear of this happening, from one who has been fortunate enough to survive accidents at that age. I know that sounds odd, but I was involved in several accidents in the 70's while in college. Sounds like he was a positive, good person. Part of me misses him even though I did not know him.
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