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'Biggest heart': Curtis King remembered as humble leader

'He was funny and very humble, full of respect and humility,' high school football coach says of Barrie crash victim Curtis King

Curtis King, whose former teachers and coaches recall the popular, athletic young man as humble and quick to be a leader, is also being remembered for scoring the final touchdown in Barrie Central history before the downtown high school was closed in June 2016. 

King was one of six young people who was killed in this past weekend's horrible crash at a construction site on McKay Road in Barrie's south end.

 Luke WestJersey MitchellRiver Wells, Jason Ono-O’Connor and Haley Marin also perished in the fiery crash.

What led to the crash remains unclear as the police investigation continues.

City police have neither released nor confirmed many details of what happened, but it is believed the vehicle in which the group was travelling caught fire after being driven into a large hole at the residential construction site. 

It is believed the crash may have happened between 4 and 6 a.m. Saturday, although the car wasn't located until 2 a.m. Sunday after missing persons reports were issued by police on social media. The vehicle was found by a local police officer.  

Chris Cudmore, who coached high school football for the Innisdale Invaders, remembers King as a leader even as the new kid coming in from Barrie Central Collegiate.

“He was one of the kids that came over when Central closed, around Grade 10 or 11. It is always tough going to a new school, but he jumped right in and became part of the fabric here immediately,” Cudmore said. “He and some others got involved with football and rugby right away and became fixtures here at Innisdale.”

Cudmore said the 22-year-old King was “an absolutely fantastic football player,” but recalled some other moments where he saw King truly shine.

“He was a tall, handsome, confident, and popular kid, but that didn’t come with the personality one pictures when you hear that description,” Cudmore said. “He was funny and very humble, full of respect and humility. When we had spirit days, he’d be the first to put on an orange and blue tutu and paint his face, just to make others laugh and have a good time.” 

Cudmore said he got to see King during the last school year when, despite having already left high school, the former Invaders player came by to visit.

“He came by to watch a rugby game, say hi and see how everyone was doing,” Cudmore said. “I remember he looked great. He was happy and had been staying in shape and was talking about his new truck.”

On King’s social media, his love for his Ford F-150 was evident through the many pictures.

On the Facebook page of King’s longtime friend Puneet Gill, there was a touching tribute, which also included pictures and video of friends surrounding King’s beloved black pickup truck and releasing balloons into the air.

The tribute said: “13 years... I miss you so much. You were supposed to be that crazy uncle that we would warn our kids about and would tell them not to listen to your stories, because we all know that you had our wildest and most interesting moments in some file in your head that you would pull out.

"You were supposed to be the crazy uncle that would have our kids do all of the dumb things we did as kids, but now you’re going to be the uncle that our kids will ask about and we’re all going to have to take a deep breath before we tell them our memories and stories about you," the post continued. "I miss you more than you can even imagine, Curtis. Thank you for always being the wild one and the one with the biggest heart. Love you.”

Before King attended Innisdale, he closed his former school in style. He is credited with scoring the last touchdown for Barrie Central on Nov. 5, 2015.

Steve Porter coached King at Central and remembers the young man’s “mischievous smile.”

“He was very confident, even at the age of 15 or 16, and with that came his fans and detractors. But he had fun with it; he would always be quick with a little jab and when it got your attention, he’d give that mischievous smile that would lighten the mood,” Porter said. “He was such a wonderful young man and I got along great with him.”

GoFundMe page has been set up for all the crash victims through Ripple of Kindness Barrie.