Orlando Brown has two sons. His oldest, OJ, died Monday morning on the way to school. Orlando Brown told WWAY "This morning we had family prayer like we always do. I asked him if he was going to drive with his friend or was he going to drive. After the family prayer we hugged and we told each other that we loved each other. I gave him some gas money. He said I love you and I'll see you later. I then told him to be careful and to stay focused."
James Keith is a longtime friend of the Brown family. He's a neighbor of the Browns who live in Riegelwood. James said: "When I got the call this morning, it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, is to tell OJ's dad that something happened to his son."
The Highway Patrol says 17 year old OJ Brown crossed the center line just a mile away from school. His 1994 Volkswagon Passat collided with Earnest Baldwin. The 66 year old Lake Waccamaw resident worked for the Columbus County transportation system. He was attempting to pick up a patient who needed dialysis treatment. Ironically, Earnest passed a driver's safety test just before he got into the van to pick up the patient.
OJ Brown had a passion for life. He was a mature 17 year old. In fact he wanted to be a minister. Mark Bridgers is not only the East Columbus principal, he's OJ's neighbor. " He was a junior here at East Columbus. He was a very well liked young man. He was very involved in various clubs at school. He was a very nice young man."
School starts at East Columbus at 8:00. The accident occurred at 8:25.
The accident photos in the video are courtesy of Mark Gilchrist( Whiteville News Reporter ).
28 people died in 2009 on roads in Columbus County. This year that number is 15 so far, and the year is not even halfway over.