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Community remembers area teens killed in crash

BELLE, W.Va. -- Cody Perdue knew Mason Roush always had a fishing pole he could borrow whenever he needed one.

Mason Roush knew Cody Perdue could always be counted on for a laugh or a positive word when needed.

Both young men died Saturday night when they collided head-on while traveling along W.Va. 61 near Turnpike Ford in the Marmet area. One of the two pickup trucks was attempting to pass a slow-moving vehicle when the crash occurred about 10 p.m., State Police said.

Vehicles moved slowly across the bridge to Riverside High School in Quincy where a candlelight vigil was held in their honor. The fences along the bridge leading to the school bore the message "Fly High Cody & Mason" spelled out in paper cups.

Another vigil was held Sunday evening in Marmet, but Monday's was organized by the school. Cody, 17, was a senior at Riverside. Mason, 18, graduated in May.

Hundreds of students, friends, teachers and community members gathered on the football field at Warrior Stadium to remember the two. The Rev. Brad Chittenden led the group in prayer.

"He was a kind and caring person who could talk to anybody," Joyce Roush, Mason's mother, said through sobs. "Mason was good. Mason touched everybody. He'd give you the shirt off his back."

She recalled an incident where their neighbors were thrown out of their home with no place to go. Mason heard about it, she said, and went upstairs only to return with his younger brother and $360 to give to the family.

"He just wanted the babies to have a place to sleep," Roush said.

She described her son as a "big teddy bear" and a gentleman. He loved the outdoors and could be often found hunting, fishing or on an all-terrain vehicle looking for ginseng. His friends called him "Big Country," and family friends described him as a "good ol' country boy."

He'd accomplished all of his immediate goals in life, said a family friend who didn't want to be named. He worked in the hunting and fishing department at Gander Mountain, finished at Riverside and was studying to be a diesel mechanic at Ben Franklin Career and Technical Center.

"I know they loved each other as friends and buddies," the family friend told the crowd. "Honor them by loving each other and being kind to one another."

Brianna Mullins, Cody's cousin, said she will always remember Cody on their grandfathers' little dirt bike. She said he was her late grandparents' "pride and joy."

Cody enjoyed sports and though he was still in school he helped out with midget league football. Cody played football, baseball and basketball and also enjoyed coaching.

Earlier in the day Saturday he and his girlfriend, Kirsten Young, 16, were running around looking for special socks for the football players for homecoming, Mullins said.

Kirsten was in the vehicle with Cody when he crashed. She suffered serious injuries but was released from the hospital Monday and was able to attend the vigil.

"Cody wasn't only my boyfriend but he was my best friend," Kirsten said through tears. She stood on crutches at the center of the large crowd. "It's going to be hard, so hard. I'm glad you all are here, it means so much to me."

Chris Vance, 16, grew up with Cody, his uncle. The two were close and enjoyed spending time with each other. He said Cody bought a ring and had planned to ask Kirsten to marry him on her birthday.

He described Cody as fun to be around and said he had a knack for making others smile.

"His smile," Chris said. "You can't forget that kid's smile. He was always cheering everybody up."

He said Cody loved everyone and never met a stranger. As the youngest child and only boy in their family, Cody was a "big ol' Mama's boy," Chris said.

Valery Harper, Riverside principal, said she met with teachers Monday to talk about what happened and go over the facts and what to expect Wednesday when the students came back to school. She said the county school board also sent support staff.

"We're grieving," she said. "We have to have these conversations with them and let them know we love them and that we're here for them."

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.


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