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November 28, 2012

Candlelight vigil pays tribute to boy killed in city accident

NEW CASTLE — About 50 people turned out on Winslow Avenue Tuesday night to remember Octavius Stone.

The 7-year-old boy died Sunday after he was hit by a pickup truck while playing in a neighbor’s yard. Tuesday night’s event was designed to bring those who knew and loved Octavius together.

Family, neighbors, teachers and friends formed a line in the 900 block of Winslow Avenue, holding candles in tribute to the boy.

Participants took turns speaking about Octavius, described by many as polite and caring. The gathering produced tears, but also laughter, as people shared their fond memories of the little boy.

The spiritual gathering also included a singing of such songs as “Jesus Loves Me,” “You are My Sunshine,” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”

One of the speakers, neighbor Bonny Rhodes, who rushed to Octavius’ side after the accident, spoke out against the dangers of intoxicated or drugged driving, believed to have been the cause of the boy’s death.

Rhodes also called upon those attending to care for one another and remember God’s love for all.

Also speaking was Jamie Arnold, a stepgrandparent of Octavius, who shared various memories of the boy.

Among the mourners at the vigil were children, who took stuffed animals and laid them on the steps of the home Octavius shared with his stepgrandparents.

Octavius was playing in the yard of neighbor Barbara Brown around 2:15 p.m. Sunday when he was hit by a pickup truck. Also hit by the truck was Emil Osborn Velez, Brown’s 9-year-old grandson. However, he avoided serious injury.

The driver of the truck, Virgil Coonfare, 66, of 211 W. Moody Ave. has been charged in the incident.

He remains in the Lawrence County jail on charges of homicide by vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, aggravated assault by vehicle, and driving under the influence. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 5.

Police said Coonfare had made a turn from Stanton Avenue onto Winslow when his pickup truck veered into the yard where the two boys were playing. The truck wound up on the yard of a home several houses away and on the opposite side of the street.

Another tribute is planned for Octavius on Friday at Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Church in New Castle. At that time, his family will be presented with a badge on his behalf by members of the New Castle Police Department. It was noted at Tuesday night’s vigil that Octavius’ dream was to one day become a police officer or fireman.

Meanwhile, a funeral fund has been set up for Octavius’ family.

Family friend Robin Knox said the fund is at PNC Bank. Anyone who would like to contribute may send a check to the bank at 2802 Wilmington Road or visit any PNC branch.

Checks should be made out to: Funeral fund for Octavius Stone.

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