An 8-year-old boy with a “bright” smile, who loved animals, playing football and pranking his sisters, was laid to rest Saturday after a memorial service that drew hundreds of mourners.
Darice Lamont Hicks, Jr., known to family and friends simply as “junior,” died exactly one week prior to his funeral, after a bus carrying an area football team crashed, killing four people and injuring more than 40 near Hamlet, N.C. The bus was carrying members of the Ramah Juco Academy football team and others to Fayetteville, N.C., when it crashed into a guardrail and bridge after a tire blew, police said.
Along with Darice, two Clinton College students Devonte Gibson and Tito Hamilton, who were on the football team, and the bus driver Brian Andre Kirkpatrick, died in the accident. The team was scheduled to participate in a football game against the University of God’s Chosen.
Darice’s father was part of the coaching staff of Ramah Juco and suffered injuries in the accident.
At his memorial service at South Pointe High School on Saturday, a large blue football bouquet and portrait of Darice in his football jersey flanked the sides of the open casket and a large projector displayed a slideshow of photos of the young boy.
Family members sobbed as they walked past the casket to their seats, where they were handed programs with photos of a smiling child holding awards and trophies, fishing, dancing, and smiling.
“Junior was a very touching and loving young man,” said Tom Bohart, who delivered the eulogy.
A religious boy who handed out biblical tracts and talked about “Paradise” to his cousin, Darice was known for being a “protector,” Bohart said.
He once stood by an autistic girl and “acted as her protector” to make sure no one would say anything mean to her.
The child who was “his mama’s baby and his dad’s twin and right-hand man,” is described as kind and loving and “the king at pranking his sisters.”
“I will always miss your heavy feet running through the house...though you were quite rough, your personality was gentle as a mouse,” his sister wrote in a poem.
Darice was a running back and linebacker for the Sylvia Circle Demons football team and attended Ebenezer Avenue Elementary School. His football teammates sat on the far right front row of the auditorium, wearing their football jerseys on Saturday.
The athletic boy who loved science and math, he also had a passion for animals, particularly rattlesnakes.
“He was a walking statistic when it came to animals,” stated an obituary narrative on the memorial service program.
Bohart — the only speaker at the service — conveyed stories about Darice from family members, and said the child loved sharing what he learned about Jehovah and “Paradise.”
“He was sharing what he knew to be true...this was not a fairy tale to Junior,” Bohart said, telling members of the service that his cousin once asked Darice if he was going to be in Paradise after he died.
“Yes, I am going to be there,” he reportedly told the child.
Although family members did not speak at the service, they wrote a “note of thanks” on the back of the program, just below his sister’s poem.
“Whatever you did to console our grieved hearts, we will always be grateful for whatever part you played,” the note stated.
Just above the note in her poem, his sister said she would give her life “just to hug you one last time...the best little brother ever, Jr.”