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Teen fisherman dies week after wreck with SUV

A memorial for Parrish Beach is placed in front of Nation Ford High School's rock. Beach died Sunday after he was hit by an SUV while riding his bicycle Oct. 27.
A memorial for Parrish Beach is placed in front of Nation Ford High School's rock. Beach died Sunday after he was hit by an SUV while riding his bicycle Oct. 27.

Nation Ford High's Bass Fishing Team was saving money to buy Parrish Beach II, 15, a new fishing pole.

On Oct. 27, Parrish's bicycle boasted a pole-holder containing his prized fishing rod while en route to his favorite fishing hole. He made a left turn off Springfield Parkway toward the Anne Springs Close Greenway when an SUV tried to pass him from behind.

Parrish spent eight days at Carolinas Medical Center. His best friend, Logan Bailey, took him a balloon that read, "It's a Girl!" His fishing buddy Jason Sandy had planned to visit him Tuesday.

Parrish never regained consciousness and died Sunday night. No charges are expected to be filed, according to Fort Mill police.

Nation Ford teenagers learned about it Monday. In a day of tears, about a dozen of his friends, most sophomores like Parrish, spent Monday in the school's counseling office.

Parrish loved sports, so the teenagers painted a boulder by the school track. It said: "Gone Fishing. Forever in our hearts, Parrish." They erected two crosses in front of it and strewed flowers on the ground. They leaned a fishing pole against one of the crosses.

"I went right to the pond after school when I heard about it," Jason said. "I needed some time to think."

The school district plans to transport two busloads of teenagers to the funeral Thursday, Parrish's family said Tuesday.

"He was very loved by his family and friends," said Michelina Paneti, his cousin who was appointed spokesperson by a family too devastated to put feelings into words. "He had a heart of gold and always worried about what other people thought and felt. He never wanted anybody to be angry."

Parrish's lifelong buddies agreed with that. Whenever they groused about a class, Parrish had a supportive word about the teacher.

Parrish had placed a quote on his MySpace page: "A bad day fishing is better than a good day of work." He was heading to the fishing pond to practice for a Bass Fishing Team tourney that Saturday.

He could always catch fish when none would bite for anybody else, according to his friends. They attributed that to his patience.

But his first love was baseball. He and Nation Ford quarterback Mitchell Starnes played Little League together all through school until about the sixth grade. Parrish, at six feet and more than 200 pounds, became a catcher and a first-baseman who could hit.

Aside from fishing and baseball, Mitchell said he loved "cracking jokes. I think it was because he liked making people smile."

"He was never in a bad mood," added buddy Ben Boykin. "You never saw him moping around."

Parrish intended to try out for basketball and football in the coming year, but his life goal was to become a professional baseball player, according to his father, Parrish Beach Sr.

"We always said we were going to go to the University of North Carolina together," Logan said. "Me and him were best friends since the first grade."

If Parrish did succeed as a professional baseball player, he planned to use proceeds to help others, according to his mother, Janet.

When he was struck Oct. 27, he was wearing UNC shorts, his favorite. Friends said that if Parrish had been conscious, he would have tried to prevent medics from cutting them off him.

Reality set in Tuesday.

"I'd always see him walking to fourth block," Mitchell said. "I won't do that anymore."

"I won't be able to just pick up the phone and call him," Logan said.

"It was real when I knew he was never going to come back and lift weights with me," Ben said.

"From my science class, I could look out and see where he and Logan were eating lunch," said Jason. "When I looked out today, there was nobody there."

Like most teenagers, Parrish was not wearing a helmet that Saturday.

"Who wears a helmet, really?" asked Mitchell. "You just don't think about it."

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