MIDWAY COMMUNITY — Educators and students at Midway High School are mourning the passing of Ryan McFarland.
Principal Monty Strickland said the 16-year-old was a good student and popular among his peers at the school in Sampson County.
“He was a typical teenager who liked to hang out with his buddies and he was a friend to many,” Strickland said. “He was very respectful to his teachers and was a joy to have in class.”
The sophomore enjoyed the outdoors and auto mechanics. He was a member of FFA and Skills USA, an organization of students, teachers and industry officials dedicated to working together.
Vernon Blackmon, automotive technology teacher and Skills USA instructor, said Ryan loved being in the shop and was a well-behaved student.
“He was very respectful to other students and I never heard another teacher say anything negative about him,” Blackmon said.
According to reports, Ryan died Sunday while working on a truck, which accidentally fell on him at his home.
“This is such a tragic loss for our school and community,” Strickland said. “Our students have been honoring his memory for the last few days by creating notes on posters and writing personal notes to the family and by just talking about the memories and good times that they shared.”
Susan Warren, a student services and public relations official for Sampson County Schools, reported that grief counselors were available Monday to help deal with the situation.
“He was a member of the 2018 class and as you can imagine, his classmates are saddened as we all are,” Strickland said.
Sampson County Sheriff’s authorities did respond to the incident Sunday and handled it as a routine death scene investigation at that point, as is protocol. Sheriff’s Lt. Marcus Smith said it was a tragic occurrence.
“It’s a very tragic and heartbreaking accident where no foul play was involved,” Smith said. “Our prayers are with that young man’s family and friends.”
According to a guestbook on the Bryan-Lee Funeral Home website, visitors leaving their condolences described Ryan as a good, caring person who loved to help others and make people happy.
“He was definitely the one that would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it,” Blackmon said while describing Ryan’s kindness.
Family members left to cherish the Midway High School student’s memory include his mother, April Williford; dad, Jeremy McFarland and wife, Shannon; brother, Seth McFarland; sisters, Lillian McFarland and Katelyn Page; maternal grandmother, Diane Smith; maternal grandfather, Brent Crizer and wife, Debbie; paternal grandmother, Mary Massey; and paternal grandfather, Larry Crowder.
A graveside service for Ryan will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 19, at Lakeside Memorial Gardens, Angier. Visitation is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at Bryan-Lee Funeral Home, Angier.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.