Ben Francis wanted to be a deckhand like his dad. If he could cook for the crew, all the better. "I taught him how to cook, and he loved it, especially omelets," said his mother, Teresa Sampson of Pinch.
"He went to night school at Hurricane High so he could get his GED and take safety classes to work on the barges. He was outgoing, a clown. He liked to fish and hunt with his dad. He liked rock music, the stuff we can't understand.
"He was a good kid, 6-foot-1, sandy hair, good looking. More friends than you could ever imagine. He had his whole life ahead of him."
He died in May, the Friday before Mother's Day, a month short of his 18th birthday.
"We were going to get together and cook on Mother's Day," his mother said.
On his last night alive, he'd planned to go to Wal-Mart with his friends to pick out Mother's Day gifts. Over and over, his friends called the house. When they couldn't reach him, they came over.
They found him lying in the yard, dead.
He'd been riding an ATV. The four-wheeler crashed into a tree in front of his house on Mill Creek Road. His head hit the tree.