Mooresville High School student athlete dies after on-campus accident

Student dies after falling out of truck

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) - A student athlete at Mooresville High School has passed away from injuries suffered during an accident on campus Saturday.

According to the Mooresville Graded School District, student athlete Gavin Sharpe was involved in an accident during a service project on the Mooresville High School Magnolia Campus on Saturday afternoon.

Gavin’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader Doug Sheley says the teen was wise beyond his years.

“I knew he was special, because you just sense it," Sheley says. "His enthusiasm, his desire, all was evident to me.”

One of the things he was most enthusiastic about, he says, was his faith. Sheley says the teen wanted to be a pastor.

“He made that very clear, and he wanted to be the next Billy Graham, is what I’ve been told," Sheley says, laughing. "And I think he might have been to be quite honest, because he was just full of wisdom for his age, full of love and compassion.”

Sheley says Gavin and the other students working on the on-campus service project had been in the back of a pickup truck when the accident happened. He says there were six teens in the truck, three fell out and the young man hit his head.

Mooresville Police said they are conducting a traffic investigation, but wouldn’t confirm the vehicle was moving when the students fell out.

What does the law say about vehicle safety and riding in the back of a truck?

“If you’re in the cabin of a truck you have to have a seat belt on. You are allowed to sit in the bed of a truck so long as you’re 16 years of age or older,” said Mark Jetton, an attorney with Jetton and Meredith.

Jetton says that some vehicle safety laws recently changed.

“The law changed in 2015 where it states everyone must wear a seat belt in the car,” said Jetton.

But if you’re over 16 you can legally wear no seat belt or anything while riding in the back of a truck.

“From a safety perspective it doesn’t seem like that makes much sense,” said Jetton.

Jetton says Gavin’s tragic loss of life could be an impetus for legal change.

“I think when you have something like this, it definitely could end up in Raleigh being looked at,” said Jetton.

Now on the campus of Mooresville High School, Gavin is remembered across the campus, and the community.

“His entire persona was one of just being a good friend, a great teammate, a leader from the standpoint of being an encourager," Sheley says.

The school district says it will have additional counselors on hand for the start of school Tuesday.

A GoFundMe campaign was set up for Gavin’s family.

“In an effort to respect the privacy of the Sharpe family , the school district will not offer additional comment at this moment. We will, however, continue to keep this family in our thoughts and prayers through this difficult time,” a statement from school officials read.

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