By Shelley Grieshop
Randy Young II was known as the class clown who had a gentle way of easing stressful moments.
His family now cherishes each of those moments as they prepare for the 16-year-old's funeral this week.
Young, the son of Randy and Lynn Young, 12349 Godfrey Reserve Road, Rockford, died Friday night shortly after he lost control of his pickup truck on Oregon Road at 6:19 p.m.
The Parkway High School junior had forgotten several pieces of his band uniform and was heading home from his girlfriend's house on Oregon Road to retrieve them before the school's football game, his family said.
He never made it home. According to the Mercer County Sheriff's Department, Young was driving a 1996 white Ford Ranger east on Oregon Road when it traveled off the south side of the roadway near the intersection of Now Road. The truck, a vehicle passed from father to son on Thursday, veered off the north side as Young overcorrected.
The truck flipped over several times before landing on its top in the middle of Oregon Road, ejecting the boy. He was rushed to Mercer County Community Hospital, Coldwater, where he was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m.
He is the third member of his junior class to die in a traffic crash in the last year. Classmate Brittany Shaffer, 15, was killed in October 2004, and Jordan Steen, 16, died this year in May.
His death marks the eighth traffic fatality in Mercer County this year.
Young's mother, the former Lynn Langenkamp, said she and her husband were celebrating their wedding anniversary in Kentucky when they received the tragic news late Friday night.
"We were charging up our cell phone when we arrived at the hotel and as soon as we turned it back on, my brother-in-law called," she said.
"Little Randy," as he was called, was the couple's only child. His mother, who works a night shift, recalled a few of his antics like the time he woke her up with a trumpet, she said.
"He picked up on many instruments," Lynn Young said, including the tenor saxophone, trombone and the piano, she said.
He loved music and had a wide variety of favorite groups from rock 'n' roll to country. Hunting, fishing and paintball were some of his hobbies, and he loved to play ice hockey along Coldwater Creek each winter, Lynn Young said in a tearful voice.
"He could cheer me up anytime. He loved to be with his family and was close to several of his cousins, they were his best friends," she said. "He was very respectful to others."
She will always cherish the photograph taken by his girlfriend's parents just minutes before the crash Friday night. Randy Young and his girlfriend, Michelle Thomas -- also a band member -- are posed together in their band uniforms.
The blue-eyed teen was a grill cook at McDonald's in Coldwater and had recently submitted a job application at a local grocery store so he could make enough money to take over payments on the truck.
His grandmother, Shirley Langenkamp of Celina, whom he jokingly called Graham Cracker, said her grandson was supposed to meet Thomas and her parents at the game Friday night. She is puzzled as to what happened along the way.
"We wonder now if there was something wrong with the truck," she said.
Besides his love of music, Randy Young was an artist and recently took a first-place award at an art gallery in Van Wert for a fall oil painting.
Parkway Local Schools' band director Richard Sherrick will give the eulogy at the funeral on Wednesday at Immaculate Conception Church in Celina.
"There wasn't anyone who didn't like Randy," Sherrick told The Daily Standard.
A student of his for seven years, Sherrick said he watched Young grow up. He described the teen as a "natural musician" and was amused by his fun-loving pranks.
"He'd stand in line on Friday nights with the other kids who needed help with their uniforms. When it was his turn, he'd say he didn't really need help, he just wanted to say hi," Sherrick recalled with a chuckle. "That was just Randy."
The high school observed a moment of silence and prayer this morning for their lost student and his family, Principal Greg Puthoff said. The students are spearheading several projects in Young's honor such as distributing buttons with his band picture, wearing ribbons and creating a memorial banner.
Counselors and area pastors were on hand this morning at the school to console friends.
"It's been a tough year here. We're encouraging the kids to talk it out," Puthoff said.