Hundreds of mourners gathered Monday for the funeral of Benjamin Owens, the 17-year-old Northwestern High School senior who died Friday after a car crash in Columbia. The chapel at Greene Funeral Home Northwest was not nearly large enough to handle all the people present.
Adults spoke about how Benjamin gave more than most kids and was exceedingly mature for his age. One mourner walked up to the altar and said Benjamin was “more than a great kid; he was a fine young man.”
Dusty Thompson, a classmate at Northwestern and fellow car enthusiast, spoke about how the two had had a secret car race some weeks back on a deserted road. Benjamin lost the race, and instead of being upset, he offered Dusty encouragement. Then, Thompson told the packed crowd, after a brief falling out, as teens will have, it was Benjamin who renewed the friendship.
Dusty Thompson told the crowd he was proud to call Benjamin his friend. Scores of Benjamin’s classmates from Northwestern attended the service – some even served as pallbearers.
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Benjamin’s girlfriend, Katie Gomulinski, who was a passenger in the Mustang Benjamin was driving Friday, said she somehow could hear Benjamin’s voice telling her to get out of the car after the crash. She said Benjamin was a wonderful and selfless young man.
Benjamin was a Renaissance kid – he loved cars, yet played the cello, previously played football and at just 16 years old ran a marathon in Columbia with his father. People told stories Monday about how Benjamin urged football players on and gave compliments to peers for success in school or even for riding a skateboard.
Among those who had to stand at the service because the chapel was so packed was Bradley Moss, a neighbor of the Owens family. Moss described young Benjamin as “a great young guy.”
The Rev. Joey Deese of Oakdale Baptist Church, who led the service and had known Benjamin well as his pastor, talked during the funeral of how Benjamin’s caring spirit brought together “the whole Rock Hill community.”
Benjamin, Deese said, was a “truly special young man.”