HUNTERSVILLE – Trustworthy. Compassionate. Selfless.
That’s how friends described Andres Morales, a Hopewell High School student who died in a car accident Nov. 17, during a vigil held Sunday, Nov. 25, at Lake Forest Church. Roughly 50 teens from Hopewell and Hough, where Morales previously attended, gathered, writing messages on balloons, consoling one another and sharing stories of their fallen classmate, known as Andre.
“There’s just a lot of emotions attached to it,” James Kohlwey said. “This definitely has made all of us stronger. If you asked anyone, no one would say a single bad thing about him.”
Morales, a 10th-grader, was a passenger in a car that spun out of control on Bailey Road near the Hyde Park storage units and collided rearward with a tree, according to Cornelius Police. Morales was transported to Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center that night, where he was pronounced dead. Hough senior Grant Geis, who was the driver, was taken to Carolinas Medical Center-Main in Charlotte, where he remained through Sunday.
The Huntersville teens were part of the Charlotte Motor Syndicate, a car appreciation club of which Kohlwey was also a member. Geis and Morales were en route to a club gathering when the accident occurred.
A preliminary investigation indicated speed was a factor in the accident, and a memorial was created near the site of the wreck.
Lake Forest Youth Ministry Team Leader Mike Hall, who said Morales had recently attended one of his gatherings, provided a message. It was that strength cannot be gained without pain.
“You can go to the gym, put no weights on the barbell and not break a sweat,” Hall said making an analogy to the loss. “But you’re no stronger.”
Morales was in his first year attending Hopewell and was involved with the Junior ROTC program at both schools. Hopewell student Joi Wood said Morales embraced the tight-knit community at his new school.
“He was super fun and super selfless,” Wood said. “He always had a smile on his face. I never saw him down.”
Morales would drive Wood and others home after school with the music turned up – “It was always something fun,” she said.
At the vigil, Hall invited those circled together to share what they had learned from the incident. The first response was “I drive with more caution now.” Others said, “Don’t take somebody for granted” and “I learned that I’m not invincible.”
The Charlotte Motor Syndicate created a memorial fund for Morales to pay for his funeral services, which were held Nov. 24 at James Funeral Home. The goal of $10,000 was surpassed.
“During this holiday season let’s all be thankful for the wonderful people like Andres who have made our lives for the better, and help us to be giving to those in need,” the GoFundMe page reads.
Morales was the son of Billy and Andrea Hagler and had two younger brothers, Dylan and Bradley.
Geis was initially in critical condition, and was using tubes to help him eat and breathe, but Hall said he was improving and responsive.