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Wreck claims life of DCHS senior

Death is year’s third teen fatality

POSTED: April 22, 2009 4:00 a.m.

A Dawson County High School senior was killed in a single-vehicle wreck Friday, a day after officials said he picked up his cap and gown for next month’s graduation.


Kolton Findley, 18, was traveling south on Hugh Stowers Road when he lost control of his pickup and flipped several times, authorities said.


A 16-year-old female passenger was injured in the wreck, which happened shortly after school let out for the day. Her name has not been released.


Services for Findley were held Tuesday afternoon in the chapel of Bearden Funeral Home.


Friends at Lava Hair Studio, where Findley worked as an assistant, said the teenager had a “kind heart and fun spirit” that “will live on forever in the hearts and minds of all whose lives he touched.”


That spirit was evident when Findley would set up a chair outside a downtown Dawsonville coffeehouse to offer free haircuts.


“He had already filled out the apprenticeship, which was the next step in becoming a stylist,” said Vanessa McBrayer, salon manager.


Friends at the high school, where Findley was active in drama and the arts, have posted an online video tribute to him.


The YouTube video included captions describing how “no one thought this would happen to such an amazing person” and “the memories you shared with all of us won’t be forgotten.”


Findley is the third teenager to die on Dawson County roads in 2009. Three of the 10 traffic fatalities in 2008 were also teenagers.


According to authorities, speed appeared to be a factor in all three wrecks this year.


On March 11, 16-year-old Jake Fausett of Dawsonville, died after he lost control of his vehicle on the way home from school a day earlier.


A two-vehicle wreck Feb. 23 on Coltrane Road claimed the life of Tyler Hutchison, 18, of Dawsonville.


Dawson County Coroner Ted Bearden said the devastation of teens dying on local roads must end.


“I’m tired of going to the homes of people close to me to tell them one of their children won’t be coming home,” Bearden said. “I’m tired of seeing the lives of parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters changed forever because of an accident.”


Bearden encouraged the community to instill in youth the importance of making responsible decisions behind the wheel.


“Driving is not a right, it is a privilege,” he said. “And we all must obey the laws in place to keep us safe. I would love to know that I would never have to face a family like this again.”


E-mail Michele Hester at


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