Maiden mourns for student crushed by car

Humberto Zepeda gave his friends plenty of reasons to smile.

The Catawba County teenager provided his Maiden High School classmates with fun memories inside and outside of class, according to posts on a Facebook page created Friday to remember his life.

Zepeda, of 1115 S. Brady Ave. in Newton, died Thursday afternoon under his car at 1175 S. Brady Ave.

Newton Police Department (NPD) investigators say they believe the car slipped from a jack and crushed him while he was repairing the vehicle.

Police, fire and rescue personnel responded to the scene about 4:45 p.m., and workers used a jack and other equipment to lift the car from Zepeda's body. Zepeda, however, was already dead when workers freed him, according to police.

The senior's death made Friday a rough day at Maiden High School, said Principal Dwayne Finger.

"He's a good kid," Finger said. "It's hard for our students, for everyone, to accept losing someone that age unexpectedly. We feel for his family. We'll be there if they need something, and right now we're concentrating on trying to help our students in the building."

Finger said high school and Catawba County Schools guidance counselors were available Friday to help students cope with the loss of their classmate.

"We try to give them an outlet to voice their concerns on it," Finger said. "It's very tough for kids to lose a fellow student."

Maiden students will create a remembrance banner, write messages about Zepeda and present it to his family, Finger said.

As of midday Friday, more than 200 people had joined the Facebook group to remember Zepeda.

Students posted condolences and memories from years of school together and fun times outside class.

David Miranda posted that Zepeda kept him entertained on the sidelines at Maiden football games.

Jordan Sigmon, who created the group, said the community will miss Zepeda.

"On March 15, 2012...the Maiden community lost a wonderful person and a great friend," Sigmon posted. "Humberto Zepeda lost his life tragically and unexpected. I made this group for all of Humberto's friends and family to share memories that they've had with him."

Newton Police Department (NPD) investigators said they have not determined how long Zepeda was trapped underneath the car.

An autopsy was expected Friday. Pending results, the incident is likely to be ruled accidental, said NPD Capt. Tim Hayes.

Zepeda's death marks the second straight year Maiden High School has lost a senior within a few months of graduation.

In April 2011, Maiden senior Jeremy Truitt drowned off the coast of Myrtle Beach, S.C., while on vacation.

Myrtle Beach police said a rip current pulled Truitt under water, and he never resurfaced. Truitt was missing for several days before his body was found.