Columbia County Deputy Coroner Tommy King Jr. knew Craig B. Davis as a teen-ager who was interested in becoming a funeral director.
The 19-year-old Evans resident was also an athlete - playing baseball and football at Greenbrier High School until graduating a year ago and signing a baseball scholarship with Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga.
But on Friday, it was Mr. King's job to pronounce Mr. Davis dead at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.
An hour before, Mr. Davis had been in a one-vehicle wreck on Interstate 20.
The news, Mr. King said, was unimaginable.
"It's just a shame. ... He said he had already bought his suit and he was enthused about going to work in the funeral business," said Mr. King, whose family owns King Funeral Home.
He said Mr. Davis had been hired for an apprenticeship at King Funeral Home a little more than a week ago. He was leaving college to start a career in the funeral home business, Mr. King said.
"But he wasn't supposed to start work until Sept. 10 because he had been on vacation with his parents," he said.
Mr. King said Mr. Davis played baseball for a year at Truett-McConnell but wanted to attend embalming school and sought the apprenticeship as part of the school's requirements.
"He's best buddies with a guy that worked at Platt's Funeral Home on Belair Road," he said. Both wanted to be apprentice funeral home directors, he said.
Police said the fatal accident occurred about 11:15 a.m. when Mr. Davis' truck veered off I-20 at the weigh station near the Grovetown exit and hit several trees. Traffic was backed up for two miles on the eastbound lane as a result, officials said.
Witnesses said Mr. Davis' white Chevrolet 1500 pickup was in the righthand lane when it began to drift across the emergency lane, across the grass shoulder and into the trees on the other side of a concrete culvert.
His truck sideswiped several pine trees, knocking a few down, and stopped facing the road with its cab smashed in and the driver's door ripped off. Authorities said they didn't know why the truck left the road.
It was an untimely loss of an upstanding person, Mr. King said.
"He was a nice, clean-cut boy," he said. "'Yes sir, no sir.' You know, brought up the right way."
Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 110, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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