Students at Clover High are mourning the loss of one of their own.
Tyler Book, a 19-year-old Clover High School senior, was driving home from school Tuesday afternoon when he was involved in a crash with a tanker truck on S.C. 55 near Griggs Road.
Grief counselors are at the school today, and the campus rock has been painted with messages such as "Heaven gained an angel" in honor of Book.
"Clover High School is stunned by this loss," said Clover High Principal Mark Hopkins in a statement. "Tyler was an exemplary student who was well liked by students and faculty. He was simply a great kid from a wonderful family. Our hearts go out to the Books during this difficult time. They are in the hearts of every Blue Eagle. We will focus our attention on helping our students and our teachers deal with this tragedy by offering our support in any way we can."
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Friends say Book was fun-loving, caring and friendly.
"He was always smiling and hardly ever got mad," said Kristina Apperson, a fellow senior Clover High. "He kept things fun. Even if he didn't know the person, if they looked like they were having a bad day, he always tried to cheer them up. He had a heart of gold and cared about everyone. I know I'm going to miss him and so will Clover."
Students say Book will always be a part of Clover's class of 2011.
In a message to The Herald, senior Brandi Thackston wrote, “I really don't think I will be able to walk across stage at graduation without one of the best classmates that Clover has lost.”
Third deadly crash on S.C. 55
On Tuesday Book's car, which was traveling east on S.C. 55, collided with a westbound commercial septic tanker around 3:30 p.m. Book was trying to turn left onto Griggs Road, less than a mile from the school, when the crash happened, said Lance Cpl. Billy Elder of the Highway Patrol.
The truck struck the passenger side of the teen's car.
Book was pronounced dead at the scene, York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said. The driver of the truck, a 42-year-old Gastonia, N.C., man, wasn't injured.
There were no passengers in either vehicle.
Book was not wearing a seat belt, according to the patrol.
Officers with the Highway Patrol and York County Sheriff's Office responded, along with Bethel volunteer firefighters.
This is the third deadly crash on S.C. 55 since May 2010. On May 17, a 19-year-old Clover man also died in a crash. He was riding a motorcycle.
Less than a mile between Griggs Road and Clover High School, two more car crashes were reported Tuesday. The first was a three-car crash, and the second was a two-car accident.
Elder said no one was injured in those crashes.
Summer Peak, a 17-year-old Clover High student, was involved in the three-car crash Tuesday. She said she saw brake lights in front of her but could not stop her blue Dodge in time.
Peak knew of Book and was shocked by his death.
"Everyone I talked to liked him," she said. "He had a lot of friends."
Her passenger, Daniel Truelove, also 17, was heading home to change before Clover High's scheduled track meet at Rock Hill High. Truelove said just that morning he had seen Book's girlfriend write on Facebook how she and Book were celebrating their 2-year and 7-month anniversary.
"It's sad," Truelove said. "When we were driving down the road, we didn't know what was happening. But when I saw the blue tarp come up, I thought a) something's wrong, and b) something's terribly wrong."
'Big asset' for EMS squad
School officials say Book was into Web design. On his Facebook page, Book had written that he was interested in "anything dealing with technology."
He also served the past couple of years with River Hills/Lake Wylie EMS, first as a junior member prior to his turning 18. For more than six months heworked as a first responder and driver.
Squad director Dick Mann recalled Book Wednesday as a “big asset” to the group who often filled in for other drivers on short notice.
“Even at the last minute if something happened, he was able to come in and take over,” Mann said.
While some young people can give off the impression that they’re only interested in what fits into their own schedules, Book “was above and beyondthat,” Mann said.
The squad, he added, is looking at options for honoring Book “not just now but into the future.” The loss is and will remain difficult, even for the squad that routinely deals with life-and-death situations.
“Any time you are familiar with an individual,” Mann said, “it certainly makes it more difficult.”
'Loved by all'
On Tuesday, Book's Facebook page was flooded with condolence messages from family, friends and classmates.
"You always knew how to brighten someone's day," wrote one Facebook friend.
"You're going to be missed by many (and) loved by all," wrote another.