MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Hedgesville High School junior who police said died early Monday from injuries related to a Dec. 27 car crash was being remembered for his work ethic in the classroom and on the soccer field.
Tristan H. Evarts, 16, of Martinsburg, died at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., where he was transferred for treatment after initially being taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg, West Virginia State Police said in a news release.
Tristan was driving a Honda Civic on Welltown School Road when the car went off the east side of the road and struck a tree about one-tenth of a mile north of Lancelot Drive, State Police Sgt. E.D. Anderson said in the release.
Two other students riding with Tristan, John “Skip” Coleman, 15, of Martinsburg, and Derek Moler, 16, of Falling Waters, W.Va., “walked away” and were not injured in the crash, according to Anderson and Hedgesville High School Principal Don Dellinger.
Evarts was trapped in the vehicle until EMS personnel could remove him, according to police.
The accident was reported at 10:36 p.m. Dec. 27.
The Berkeley County Schools crisis intervention team was at Hedgesville High to talk with students and staff who were mourning Tristan’s death, Dellinger said.
“It’s not a good morning,” Dellinger said Monday.
Tristan was an exceptional student who worked hard in his classes, according to his advanced-placement history teacher, Eric Brown.
“This is a kid that (had) the utmost manners,” Brown said. “It was always, ‘Yes sir, no sir.’ If he didn’t have his homework assignment done, he would just give you that sheepish grin and say, ‘No sir.’”
Brown said Tristan was a top-notch student who had a “collegiate schedule” and excelled in his class.
Brown said he and fellow teacher Ty Tyson agreed that Tristan was the kind of young man they would want their sons to grow up to be.
Ronald McKelvey, a teammate of Tristan’s on the soccer team, said he last saw his friend the day they were leaving campus for Christmas break.
Ronald said Tristan, who moved into his subdivision in middle school, was never really outspoken. He recalled that their last time together was a little unusual.
“He probably talked the longest I’ve ever heard him talk. It was a pretty good day,” said Ronald, managing to crack a smile.
“Right before he left, I hugged him. I don’t know why, it was just an impulse to do it, so I’m glad I did it,” Ronald said.
“Thinking back now, I’m just glad I got to hang out with him. I’m glad I got to know him,” said Ronald, recalling times playing video games and “Polish” ping pong.
The night of the accident, Ronald said he received a number of text messages on his mobile phone that indicated Tristan and his best friend, Skip, had been in an accident minutes earlier. They were returning to the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Martinsburg, Ronald said.
“I tried calling (Tristan’s) phone first just to see if maybe, hopefully, he would answer,” Ronald said. “That didn’t happen.“
Teammate Aaron Lloyd, 16, said they played soccer since middle school and also ran track together.
“He was always willing to work harder to get better, to give the team a better shot (at winning),” Lloyd said.
Ronald and Aaron said Tristan, who was a midfielder, held the record for running the school’s cross country course in off-season conditioning and kept breaking his own record.
“If you didn’t like Tristan, then you (didn’t meet) him,” Aaron said.
Ronald and Aaron said members of the soccer team are planning to wear armbands in Tristan’s memory and to present a soccer ball signed by teammates, along with framed photographs, to his family.
“We all need to learn how to be more like Tristan,” said Ronald, noting that Tristan always had fun no matter what he did and always put forth his best effort.
In making a school announcement Monday morning about Tristan, Dellinger said he quoted President Theodore Roosevelt, who said: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood ... who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
“I think that says a lot about Tristan,” Dellinger said. “He wasn’t one to sit back and let things pass him by. And that’s one reason why he was not only well-known, but well-liked by the students here.”