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Bright futures, brought to an end all too soon

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Kolby Singleton and Aidan Henderson / August 27, 2020
The Halifax County High School community will come together Friday night for a vigil to remember two students — one a recent graduate, the other a rising sophomore — who lost their lives in unrelated incidents Sunday.

Kolby Singleton, 18, and Aidan Henderson, 16, had a shared involvement in the high school’s JROTC program. Its leader, First Sgt. Gregory Scott, said the deaths of the two cadets, occuring within hours of each other, has been a heavy blow.

Sunday was “a bad night,” said Scott.

Singleton, a 2020 graduate of HCHS living in Danville, was killed in a single-vehicle crash on U.S. 58 near Turbeville that also seriously injured the driver, 18-year-old Jamel Faulkner Jr. of South Boston. The Acura sedan that Faulkner was driving ran off eastbound 58 and disintegrated upon impact with a tree in the highway median. Speed was a factor in the crash, State Police said.

Henderson died later in the day after going under on Buggs Island Lake while swimming with friends at Buffalo Park in Clarksville. The youth was pulled to shore and a Mecklenburg County deputy administered CPR. He was rushed to the emergency room at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital and later to Duke University Hospital before he died. According to friends, Henderson got caught in a current and was unable to swim to safety. The incident occurred around 6 p.m.

Friday night’s vigil to honor the students will be at HCHS at 6 p.m. Those who attend are asked to park in the student parking lot, and are invited to bring candles. A limited supply of candles will be available, and the JROTC program will provide balloons.

Friends of Singleton and Henderson described both students as kind and caring, with bright futures ahead of them.

Scott said he has been in shock since learning of their deaths, back-to-back. “There is so much going on in the world, all literally happening at the same time,” he said — and now this.

His phone began ringing in the late afternoon Sunday with news of a horrible accident on U.S. 58, he said. At the time, Scott thought it was just a bad crash until he received text messages asking, “Did you hear about Kolby?”

As the calls first came in, “I thought they were talking about Kobe Bryant, until I realized it was Kolby Singleton who was in the car accident,” Scott recalled. “My mind starting going through all the ‘how and why’ questions, that your mind does at times like these. I knew I had a paper to write for the next day, so I got to work on that and to distract my mind. Then my phone started ringing again, this time it was about Aidan.”

Both cadets would come to him to share their thoughts and problems, Scott said.

“They would come and talk to me about anything.”

Kolby’s uncle, Ronald Perkins, shared a story on Facebook attesting to his niece’s loving nature. One day she paid a visit to ask about his hobbies, interests, work history and other topics, and “I got suspicious,” Perkins wrote. It turned out she had been given a school assignment to put together a presentation about the person she admired most, and she chose him.

“Well, needless to say I was overwhelmed and thankful (though I did ask her why of all the great people in the world she’d pick me and she simply smiled and say ‘Cause I love you,’” Perkins wrote. He saw the pictures, videos and messages about him that Kolby had gathered, and “I was floored,” Perkins continued.

“I read through for over an hour and never got to them all. The love and joy she had spread, the countless young and older lives she had touched, the simple joy and loyal friendships she had shown … Kolby Dale, you are the young person that I admire the most.”

In addition to being part of high school JROTC, Henderson played jayvee football and would been a sophomore this fall. He was also a member of the local group, Misunderstood, led by the Rev. Anthony Womack. Misunderstood is a nonprofit corporation organized exclusively for educational and charitable purposes to empower young males ages ten to 18.

“Aidan was always one member I’d call to go with me to events to represent Misunderstood,” said Womack. Henderson was known for his genuine and infectious smile, Womack said, as well as for always being positive and well-mannered. He was part of the community of Williams Trail.

“He was a reflection of his mom [Debbie Henderson] and his community. He was loved by everyone,” said Womack, adding that the deceased youth set an example in these times of racial turmoil for how all people should love one another.

All week, people have been reaching out to Scott asking how they might help with the vigil. Scott said he has accepted numerous friend requests on Facebook from those who knew both students, and who want to be part of the vigil.

“I didn’t plan for it to get to this level, but it is important for everyone to have a part in sharing their condolences,” said Scott.

HCHS Principal Michael Lewis and Scott met Monday to organize the Friday night event. Everyone is asked to observe social distancing guidelines. Lewis said solace in this time of tragedy comes from the response of the community; living in a small town, “people can come together to support these families through tremendous difficult times.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Aidan and Kolby. I want the families to know our thoughts and prayers are with them,” said Lewis.

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