VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) – Many Vancleave High students heard the somber news when they arrived at school Friday morning. Freshman Trent Romero had died hours earlier in a tragic bicycle accident.
"It was terrible. I couldn't believe it at first," said Trent's cousin Haley Waldrop.
"Trent was a very nice young man, very personable," said principal Todd Knight. "He had a great personality, had many friends here that were devastated at his loss."
Brett Cone was one of Trent's closest friends. He remembers when Trent played football at the middle school.
"He was a great football player," said Cone. "He played linebacker for us in 7th and 8th grade and he was the hardest hitter we had."
The 16-year-old Romero was riding his bike on Jim Ramsey Road around 8:30 Thursday night. He was heading home from a friend's house. According to Sheriff Mike Byrd, Trent tried to cut across the road and turned into the path of a pick-up truck. Trent was airlifted to USA Medical Center in Mobile, where he later died.
"It was hard because not even three hours before it happened, he was on the bus," said Waldrop. "I was upset because I'd had a bad day. He had told me 'Haley, don't worry about it, because I'll always be here for you.'"
Trent's death is the sixth death the school has experienced over the last seven years. So on Friday morning, the school held a moment of silence and brought in counselors to help the students cope.
"It helps you, I guess, prepare how to handle it as it happens," said Knight. "But it doesn't get any easier. Each one is just as tough as another."
"This is the first time we've lost a student in our grade and it makes it so much worse," said Waldrop. "I just wish I could have said goodbye before he left."
Sheriff Byrd said the 20-year-old driver of the pick-up truck was not charged in the accident. He said there were no drugs or alcohol involved and speed was not a factor.