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Dead man identified

February 20, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Falling Waters, W.Va., man whose body was found in a quarry north of Martinsburg Wednesday has been identified as Jeremy Nathaniel Payne, West Virginia State Police said Thursday.

Police believe Payne, 18, a senior at Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School, may have walked away from an accident on U.S. 11 Tuesday night and then fell over a cliff into the quarry.

"So far, all the information I've gotten has pointed to an accidental death," said state police Senior Trooper John Droppleman, who is investigating the death.

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Sgt. Jim Humphrey said that, at the family's request, an autopsy will not be performed on the body. Police left that decision up to the family because no foul play is suspected, Humphrey said.

Troopers do not believe anyone was with Payne when he wrecked his Ford EXP. Blood was found in the car, and it will be analyzed to make sure it belonged to Payne, Humphrey said.

Family members declined to talk about the incident Thursday night.

Payne was remembered Thursday as a good student who was taking night and day classes at Hedgesville High School so he could graduate June 1, according to Principal Frank Aliveto.

"He was a nice young man," Aliveto said. "He was doing well with his grades."

Aliveto said a crisis intervention team was sent to the school Wednesday morning to help Payne's friends cope with the loss.

School officials announced Payne's death Thursday morning at the school and then held a moment of silence for him, Aliveto said.

Shortly before midnight Tuesday, a state police trooper found an unoccupied car that had ran into construction debris along U.S. 11. The car was about 150 feet away from the quarry, which is situated off Berkeley Station Road.

The trooper searched, but could not find the car's driver.

Police said Wednesday they were not sure if the driver might have been delirious from the accident and wandered off or left the scene for another reason. Droppleman said Thursday damage to the car appeared limited. The windshield was damaged, and that might have been due to an arm striking the glass, Droppleman said.

After leaving the car, the driver apparently followed a path made by an old line of railroad tracks, police said.

There was a moon out Tuesday night, but skies were partially cloudy, and in the dark the man might have stumbled into the quarry or mistaken the open area for a field, Droppleman said.

Two men who were walking along old railroad tracks in the area spotted Payne's body floating in water at the quarry, police said.

Rescue officials spent more than two hours recovering the body from the long, narrow stone quarry.

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