Crime

Coroner identifies teen who died in four-wheeler wreck

Bryan Station High School freshman Michael L. Sparks, 15, died in an all-terrain vehicle accident Thursday night. The picture is from his middle school yearbook. He attended Crawford Middle School last year.
Bryan Station High School freshman Michael L. Sparks, 15, died in an all-terrain vehicle accident Thursday night. The picture is from his middle school yearbook. He attended Crawford Middle School last year. Herald-Leader

Students at four Lexington schools joined Friday in mourning Michael L. Sparks, 15, who died after his ATV collided with a pickup truck Thursday night.

The Fayette County Public Schools sent grief counselors Friday to assist students at Dixie Elementary, Crawford Middle and Southside Technical — all schools Sparks had attended — as well as to Bryan Station High School, where he was a freshman this year.

Crawford Principal Mike Jones recalled Michael as a "great kid" with a "wonderful heart" who was always ready to help out around Crawford.

Even after Crawford closed at the end of the school year, Michael often walked over from his nearby home to help teachers box up materials for the summer. He'd show up again before school reopened to help teachers unload their materials, Jones said.

"If somebody was walking in from the car with a load of books or a box of food or whatever, he would just go and help them," Jones said. "And it was always unsolicited, out of the kindness of his heart. All the kids liked him."

Lexington police said Michael was riding a four-wheel ATV which apparently ran a stop sign at the intersection of Eastland Parkway and Anniston Drive about 8 p.m. Thursday. The four-wheeler crashed into the side of the truck and he suffered multiple injuries, authorities said.

Michael was rushed to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital but was pronounced dead at 8:28 p.m., according to the Fayette County Coroner's Office said. An autopsy was performed, the coroner's office said.

Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said an investigation was continuing.

Michael left behind a twin brother Matthew.

Jones said Michael was popular at Crawford and that some students were emotional as they remembered him Friday.

"Middle school is a tough age, kids are already emotional," Jones said. "When a tragedy likes this happens it exacerbates that. We've had some kids that have been pretty emotional today."

Grief counselors spent time with both students and staffers at Crawford Friday. Jones said students shared stories about Michael and prepared handmade sympathy cards and drawings that will be sent to his family.

Jones said Michael was not the first student he has lost during his 13-year education career.

"It's always a tough thing for educators," he said. "We do this for a reason. We do this because we love our kids. And a part of me today was lost."

Funeral arrangements were pending Friday afternoon.

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