A single bright pink traffic cone, surrounded by flowers, mementos and sometimes weeping friends, hugging and comforting one another stood in the space at Calvary Christian School on Thursday morning where Jacob Perry-Lee Causey’s noisy truck usually parked.
Pink was Causey’s color because he often wore it in support of a close relative who battled breast cancer, and the cone was placed there the day after he was found in the Waccamaw River following a boating accident Monday night.
Students, teachers and friends decked in pink, hugged each other, tears streaming down some of their faces, as they gathered in the school gymnasium Thursday morning at Calvary Christian School to honor 17-year-old Causey, who drowned in the accident.
We have some great memories of Jacob. For me it was every day when he left school, as I sat there at my desk, and he would start his truck up, and you didn’t see it, but I would fall out of my chair, because it was so loud, I’d have to pick myself up.
Mark Roland, principal of Calvary Christian School
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“We have some great memories of Jacob. For me it was every day when he left school, as I sat there at my desk, and he would start his truck up, and you didn’t see it, but I would fall out of my chair, because it was so loud, I’d have to pick myself up,” Mark Roland, principal of Calvary Christian School, said with a laugh as he shared a favorite memory of Causey, who went to the school since he was a toddler.
Causey and a 20-year-old male friend were tossed into the dark water of the Waccamaw when a small boat Causey was operating crashed into Channel Marker 57 at Wacca Wache Marina in Murrells Inlet about 8 p.m. Monday.
Friends said Causey, who was an avid outdoorsman who wanted to be a game warden, was experiencing motor trouble the day of the crash. The accident and its cause are still under investigation.
While Causey’s friend was immediately rescued from the water and taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries, Causey drowned and was discovered Tuesday morning by S.C. Department of Natural Resource divers, who were aided by the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Coast Guard.
At the service held at Calvary Christian School on Thursday, Roland encouraged students to share their memories of Causey, but stressed an importance in relying on and trusting in God in their time of sorrow and mourning.
“We have those memories, but God tells us that those memories don’t bring the comfort that’s in Christ, so at this service we’re going to focus on the word of God,” he said.
Roland acknowledged the weighty grief many were feeling, but noted the importance of remembering that death was gain for Causey, who he said was a strong believer who is now with Christ.
“For those who don’t know Jesus Christ, death is final. … But to a believer the reason we have hope is we believe there is much more to life than a few years on this earth,” he said.
Our goal has been to make sure the memory of Jacob isn’t wasted in a way that doesn’t change us. We want to be changed by his life and his death.
Mark Roland, principal at Calvary Christian School
Some students quietly wept as Roland read Bible verses and spoke about the comfort they could find in Christ. The students at the small Christian school have been finding ways to memorialize and honor Causey, like marking his parking spot with a cone and donning pink, Roland said. The service was simply to gather to keep remembering Causey, support one another and pray, he said.
Several students spoke at the service, reading Bible verses and leading the room in prayer as they remembered their friend and classmate, affectionately known as “Scrappy,” and known for his big personality and his faith.
“While it’s difficult to understand this loss … I ask that you comfort us,” Preston Sexton, Calvary Christian student body president, said as he led the group of roughly 80 in prayer.
Causey’s parents did not attend the service, but Causey’s mother sent a message for the students.
“First of all, if you don’t know Jesus as your savior, don’t wait,” Roland said was the first of a two-part message for students, urging them to become Christians if they weren’t already. “She wants us to remember you should not delay in coming to Christ.”
Secondly, she wanted those there who were already Christian to “be a warrior for Jesus Christ,” Roland said, meaning leading those who aren’t followers to Christ in loving ways and through example.
Anna Owens, teacher at Calvary Christian School, taught Causey the violin for about five years, and said when she moved to the area from Michigan, Causey taught her the ways of the Lowcountry, making her his student as he schooled her on the region.
“Jacob loved the violin. He wanted to fiddle, and he had a lot of good talent as a musician,” Owens said.
Causey would want the focus to be on God as everyone mourned, she said.
“God shows himself everyday. In creation and all around us. We know he’s there. We know lives will end and yet when they do, he gives great grace and peace to those who know him. … He lost his son on Calvary, so he knows,” she said.
The school will also honor Causey at its graduation Friday night, and the family will hold a funeral at First Baptist Church in Murrells Inlet on Friday afternoon.
“Our goal has been to make sure the memory of Jacob isn’t wasted in a way that doesn’t change us. We want to be changed by his life and his death,” Roland said.