Choctaw High School Remembers Bowden Relatives

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For the second time in three weeks an Okaloosa County school must deal with a loss.

On a rainy Sunday evening, John Madden and his son Bowden were traveling west on I-10 when they bumped into a van. That bump put them into oncoming traffic and the path of a utility truck, killing them instantly.

Cindy Massarelli, the principal, says, "Losing Bowden was as close to losing one of my very own as I can describe."

Bowden was a sophomore at Choctaw High School and played on the football team. His dad also graduated from Choctaw, a school now trying to cope.

"We have great students and the school district is giving us a lot of support, so our counselors and our coaches are spending their time with our students to help them begin the healing process over a huge loss at Choctaw High School.”

Many students wore buttons to remember a family plenty had grown up with.

Mark Crawford, a student, says, "It’s a big loss and everybody's pretty down about it, family just feels weird."

Zach Mikel Allen, also a student, adds,” It’s real hard to deal with a loss like that. It’s like losing a best friend and his dad too. He was like a father to me."

Head football coach Bobby Moore says, “I think the biggest thing that we talked about as far as players is going out and dedicating ourself much like Bowden and John did to be in the best we can be.”

Coach Moore says that's the way John and Bowden would want it.

This is not the first loss for Okaloosa students this school year; three weeks ago Crestview High School lost two students in an apparent murder-suicide.