VERONA – A Verona teen who died in a house fire Saturday loved to fish, hunt and ride horses.
Jamal Wells, 17, who had recently started his senior year at Shannon High School, was killed in the blaze that began shortly before 3 on Saturday morning. The cause remains under investigation.
“He was a very popular young man,” said Shannon High School Principal Robert Smith. “He was a very outgoing person, and he had a lot of friends in grades nine to 12. He knew everyone, and everyone liked him.”
Jamal is the third Shannon High School student to die in the last year. Monique Braham was killed in a car accident in May, and Sadarius Johnson was struck by a truck in December.
Wells’ uncle, Jackie Meardith, said that Jamal used to call him on Sunday mornings to ride horses together. He said that Jamal belonged to a horse riding club called the Lonesome Riders.
“Jamal was a real good person,” Meardith said. “Jamal was caring and did anything you asked him to do. He was like a son to me.”
Meardith said that after Jamal’s funeral on Saturday afternoon, his casket might be delivered to the grave on a horse trailer, reflecting the teen’s love of horses.
Shannon High School will also hold a vigil service for Jamal on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the school’s gym. That event will be open to anyone.
Another uncle, Pete Meardith, remembers Jamal as a good fisherman who could spend hours working his way around a lake.
Pete Meardith will particularly remember the summer days when Jamal would help him do plumbing work.
“Any time we worked until about 11 o’clock, he would say, ‘When do we eat?’ He never wanted to miss a meal,” he said.
Pete Meardith said that Jamal often looked after his 3- or 4-year-old niece, who would often be at his side.
“Jamal was so respectable,” Pete Meardith said. “He would do anything we asked him to do. He never frowned. I’m just going to miss him. He’ll always be in the bottom of my heart.”
Jamal played football at Shannon in the past, but was not playing this season. The Rev. Chris Traylor, a longtime Verona resident, said the teen’s death is a tragedy for the community.
“This kid was a tremendous, super kid,” Traylor said.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal