PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Family and friends of 18-year-old Kyle DeMaio gathered at the Rutherford High School courtyard to honor Kyle's memory after he passed away in a car crash Wednesday afternoon.
"He was one of those students, as a principal you don't often see because he's quiet and he does everything he was supposed to do," Rutherford High School Principal Coy Pilson said.
"Everyone wore white today [Thursday] because Kyle wore white almost every day, he liked to step out, he liked to look good, show his best and it was so awesome. Every time I see someone in their shirt, I think of Kyle," Rutherford Student Body President Acacia Walker said.
"I knew something was wrong because he wasn't in class right when the bell rung and normally he's beating me here in class that day and every day he's here early and doing exactly what he's supposed to be doing so it's kind of like what you expect from a student, what you want to see from a student, he did that, he was the example of a student right there," Rutherford High School Teacher Dashoan Olds said.
According to Rutherford Principal Coy Pilson, Kyle was a senior, involved in the school's industry certification program and the school's yearbook group.
"From everything that I've heard from his teachers and his friends he was truly a wonderful young man," Pilson said.
"I grew up with Kyle. We both have family in the military, lived at Tyndall and he actually lived down the street from me and just, you know, you don't expect things like this to happen, but I'm really glad that we have the support system that we do," Walker said.
"I think it's important that we honor that we lost someone that is so important to us and that we comfort each other as a ram-family," Rutherford High School Student Emily Anderson said.
A memorial has been made in Kyle's name along Rutherford's fence on School Avenue and a fundraiser for his family is in the works.
A local church donated hundreds of candles for the vigil. Students and staff made signs and brought flowers to honor Kyle.
School officials tell us grief counselors from various agencies are also set to be available for students and staff if needed.
Another Rutherford High School student was in the car with Kyle at the time of the accident. He was hospitalized for minor injuries but is said to be doing okay.