Community mourns teen - SCHS Junior killed in Saturday night accident

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By John Shindlebower



“The halls were so quiet and filled with tears today.”

That was the message that accompanied a photo sent to The Spencer  Magnet on Monday, showing students dressed in flannel to show their respect for one of their classmates killed in a car accident Saturday night.

Joseph Sheeley, 16, died from injuries he sustained in a single-vehicle accident in the Hillsborough subdivision Saturday evening a little before 9:30 p.m. He was transported to the University of Louisville Hospital, where he passed away a short time later.

News of the accident spread quickly via social media, and friends gathered at a local church to pray. Prayers for healing soon turned to prayers for comfort at the grim news of his death. Over the last couple of days, students have gathered numerous times in an effort to make sense of the tragedy. On Monday, counselors, ministers and teachers were on hand at Spencer County High School to help students with questions for which there are few answers.

“We have our crisis team in place today,” said SCHS Principal Curt Hahn on Monday. That team was made up of counselors, ministers and others from across the district and community.

“We had a moment of silence for Joe first thing this morning and announced to the student body that counselors were available. The student body is very reserved today. Several students have moved in and out of the library speaking with their peers and with members of our crisis team.”

Like others, Haun had nothing but praise for Sheeley, who was involved in numerous activities, including the baseball team, the school’s bass fishing team and FFA.

“Joseph was a great kid and very likable and very outgoing. His friendships stretched across many different groups of students,” said Haun.

In addition to attending SCHS, Sheeley also attended the Shelby County Vocational school in the morning and had been working in the industrial maintenance program.

On Facebook, classmates, teammates, friends and adults who knew Sheeley, filled their pages with tributes and photos of a young man who seemed to be loved by all who knew him.

Chad Goodlett, pastor of Taylorsville Community Church, knew Joseph not only as a member of the congregation and an active member of the youth group, but as a close family friend.

“His whole family had been coming [to church]for a while,” said Goodlett. “He was very active.”

“Joe was a great kid and he was close to my son. He was one of those friends that I was glad my son had. He spent quite a bit of time here at the house and all my kids loved him.”

Goodlett said it didn’t matter who you were, how old you were or where you were from, Joseph treated everyone the same way.

“He just had a way about him. It didn’t matter how old you were. He was just friends with everybody. He crossed all kinds of lines and had friends of all kinds.”

Sheeley had attended a fundraiser for the baseball team earlier Saturday night, and then had gone to a friend’s house. The accident happened after he left that house. A report from the KSP indicated that Sheeley was driving a 1998 Toyota Camry when it went off the left shoulder, struck a mailbox, then hit a concrete driveway, which caused the car to flip. Sheeley was thrown from the vehicle.

Friends who were behind Sheeley’s vehicle at the time of the accident stopped and calls were immediately placed for help.

The young man being remembered this week was known for his ability to tell stories, his sense of humor, his country accent, his friendliness and a constant smile.

“He was a good kid and a very faithful kid,” said Goodlett. “He was always doing something like pulling a prank or telling a joke.”

At the same time, said Goodlett, “He was very much a gentleman.”

“He was very polite. He had a firm handshake and he would look you in the eye and talk to you like a grown man.”

He remembers Sheeley having a heart to help. When he was at their house, Goodlett said Joseph would be quick to help his wife with her duties.

“We were proud to have him in here, and he always had an open door to our home.” For Goodlett and so many others, the tragic news has been difficult to bear.

“It hits home,” said Goodlett. “It really does.”