Teen remembered for helping friends dies in county wreck

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Warren County teen known for his role in the rescue of friends seriously hurt in a wreck almost a year ago was killed early Sunday morning when his sport utility vehicle skidded and overturned on Mount Alban Road.

Zeke A. West, 18, 2938 Tiffintown Road, Bovina, was pronounced dead at the scene by Vicksburg Fire Department paramedics, Sheriff Martin Pace said. The wreck occurred just after 1 a.m.

“He was an absolute angel,” said Nancy Gray, whose daughter was injured in a Nov. 18, 2007 wreck. “My daughter had an angel on earth and now she has one in heaven.”

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On Sunday, Zeke was driving a 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe on his way to Bald Hill Hunting Club in Port Gibson, said his mother, Becky West. He was going to camp out with friends and then go hunting. Zeke also leaves his father, Gary, an employee of Solar Supply, and a 14-year-old brother, Nathan.

Culkin volunteer firefighter Larry Furr was driving on Mount Alban Road when he came across the wreck just north of the intersection with Shelter Drive, Pace said.

“It appears that the vehicle slid sideways and flipped completely over, possibly more than once,” Pace said. “The victim was found several feet from the vehicle.” It was not clear what caused the wreck, Pace said. The cause of death was head and chest trauma, Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey said. No autopsy was planned.

Zeke West was a 2008 graduate of Warren Central High School who was employed at LeTourneau Technologies as a welder.

His mother also recalled when two of his friends, Brittany Gray and Dustin Stokes, had their wreck. Both recovered. Brittany’s hospitalization was extensive.

Zeke, who’d been driving behind them, pulled Justin to safety, doused a fire and helped keep Brittany breathing until paramedics arrived. “His friends remembered him doing that,” Becky West said.

Her mother said Brittany was thrown from the vehicle as it wrecked on Fisher Ferry Road and was pinned in mud when the pickup in which she was a passenger came to rest on her. “Zeke ran over, dug out a hole in the mud for her to breathe and stayed with her until paramedics arrived,” Nancy Gray said.

“He was doing so well at work,” his mother said, adding that in his one month on the LeTourneau job he had earned an early promotion or upgrade.

During Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, Zeke traveled to Galveston and Houston, working with T-Beaux’s Catering to feed Entergy employees working to repair outages.

In addition to the hunting club, Zeke was a member of the Tallulah Bass Fishing Club and Bovina Baptist Church. He had been baptized when he was about 12, his mother said, and continued to attend church and Sunday school throughout his teen years, including last week.

“He was such a sweet son,” she said. “He had a lot of good friends and was real open with them, able to tell them he loved them. Lots of them have been coming to visit. I realized I loved him because he was such a good kid — not just because he was my son. He was just a good honest Christian boy.”

Visiting hours are tonight from 5 to 7 at Riles Funeral Home, and from 9 until 10 a.m. Tuesday when the funeral begins at Bovina Baptist Church on U.S. 80.

It was the sixth fatality on Warren County roads this year. One has been recorded within Vicksburg’s city limits in 2008.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at phitchins@vicksburgpost.com.