By NIKKI DOTSON MERRITT and LUKE CREASY

Wayne County News

WAYNE - Jacob Merritt knew Colt Adams from the time they were young kids, and he thought they would know each other for the rest of their lives.

However, Merritt and a whole community found themselves in disbelief in the wake of a fatal crash that claimed the life of Adams last Tuesday.

In honor of Adams, a Wayne High School sophomore, students, family and friends, gathered at Wayne United Methodist Church on Wednesday to share memories of a life taken too soon.

Adams, 16, was driving an SUV when the vehicle collided with a semi-truck in the area on W.Va. 152 known as the "all-day" curve near Sam's Gun and Pawn. Adams was pronounced dead on the scene when authorities arrived at approximately 9 a.m. Tuesday. His sister, an elementary school student who was also in the vehicle, was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover.

While there were many tears at Wednesday's service, most spoke to Adams' character and the radiance of his personality and recounted the memories that meant the most to them.

"There is healing in sharing," Wayne United Methodist Pastor Todd Hurley said. "It's appropriate to laugh and to cry and to mourn together."

Though Merritt didn't speak at the memorial, he said losing his best friend and brother has been hard - but his memory will live on.

"I'm going to remember everything about him, most importantly the way he was toward me," Merritt said. "He was with me 24/7 and would always help me with anything I needed no matter what it was. He was the best friend anyone could ever ask for."

Adams played both football and basketball for the Pioneers, and the sophomore's three No. 8 football jerseys hung on the railing in front of the stage in the sanctuary. He had a promising career in front of him after landing on the All-Cardinal Conference first-team last season, guiding Wayne to an appearance in the state playoffs.

"Nobody in this world could understand the bond that our group had. Nobody could break it, and that's what made us so good on the field and off the field is that we were connected. Without being blood, we were brothers," Wayne senior Mike Bartram said. "Right now I'm at a loss because that was my best friend."

Merritt said Adams' football legacy will live on as well.

"He was one of the best football players - and we will play every down for him this season," he said.

Adams' impact went beyond the sidelines, too, as many told stories from church camps or from outside of school volunteering his time to help others. He was described as selfless, loving and funny, and no one could decide which was bigger: his heart or his smile.

That's how he'll be remembered.

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