The whole Travelers Rest community will feel the loss of Joseph Gillespie, who was killed in an automobile accident Sunday night, baseball coach Brian McKitrick said.
Gillespie, a 2015 Travelers Rest High School graduate, had accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Erskine College.
“He played as hard as anybody on the baseball field,” McKitrick said. “But he was well-liked by his community members, friends and family. It’s one of those things in life that’s hard to ever accept. He was just that well-liked.
“Travelers Rest is going to miss him altogether — the town, the people, the kids, the families, the school. Joseph is one that will be remembered for a long, long time. I’ve known him since he was a little kid. God meant it to be at this point and this time, but it’s unexplainable.”
Gillespie’s Volkswagen Jetta collided with a four-door vehicle at 9:20 p.m. on State 11 near Talley Bridge Road in Pickens County, authorities said. Gillespie ran a stop sign, the Highway Patrol said. A helicopter transported the other driver, a Taylors resident, to Greenville Memorial Hospital with serious injuries, Lance Cpl. David Jones said.
Gillespie, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Josh Mills, Travelers Rest’s boys basketball coach, remembered Gillespie as “the kind of kid who would do whatever he could to help you.”
“I was trying to make some badminton things for my (physical education) class,” Mills said. “So I go to Joe and tell him what I want, and three or four days later it’s, ‘Coach, I’ve got these badminton things made for you.’
Mills said he “begged” Gillespie to come out for basketball for three years, and when he finally did as a senior, he was a “huge contributor” on a Devildogs team that won a second straight Peach Blossom AAA Region championship.
“He worked hard, was a ‘Yes, sir, no, sir’ kind of kid, and for him to be gone just doesn’t seem right,” Mills said. “But I know God has a plan for each of us, and I just pray that his family has a little peace.”
“We’ll have to embrace the family and help them as much as possible and help them get through this grief and this time of sorrow to a point and do what we can,” said McKitrick. “Remember the good things. That’s the biggest thing in life. Always have the memories.”
McKitrick said a candlelight vigil in Gillespie’s honor is planned for 9 p.m. Monday at the school’s baseball field.
Staff writer Romando Dixson contributed.