Accident claims young Basehor life
The seventh and eighth grade Bobcats baseball team will have "Gaffney" and No. 25 marked on their batting helmets for the rest of the season to honor their beloved teammate, Joshua Gaffney.
The 14-year-old Basehor-Linwood Middle School eighth-grader was killed in a vehicle accident early Sunday morning on Interstate 70 near Sweet Springs, Mo. The Gaffney family was heading to Fort Benning, Ga., to watch Joshua's brother, Dennis Gaffney, graduate from Army basic training.
Fred Box, Josh's grandfather, said Joshua was involved in several sports including wrestling, football and baseball and had a lot of friends.
"He was an outstanding student,t and all the kids loved him," Box said. "He was a precious boy. It's going to be a bad loss, but I guess God needed him more than we did."
BLMS principal Mike Boyd said the school activated its crisis plan Monday morning, which makes school counselors available to grieving students, but students already had acted quickly to support each other by setting up a vigil for Josh Sunday evening at Basehor-Linwood High School.
"There were probably 200 to 300 kids up there," Box said. "It really was a nice vigil."
Josh was able to play in his first baseball game of the season last week, making a great play as third baseman, said Matt Brown, one of Josh's coaches. The Bobcats ended up winning the game 9-8 against a team they didn't think they would beat, Brown added.
Along with wearing Josh's name and number on their helmets, teammates plan to take the field with third base open in honor of Josh at their next game at 6 p.m. Monday, May 5. The 3&2 Baseball Club, 83rd Street and Kansas Highway 7, Shawnee, site of the game, has agreed to hold a ballpark-wide moment of silence as well.
"He was about the most positive kid you'd ever want to meet," Gerald Kahle, another coach, said.
"They're really determined to play their hearts out the rest of the season," Brown said about Josh's teammates. "It's a shock to everyone, especially when it's a kid that was liked and loved like Josh was. They're doing as good as can be expected."
Brown has also organized the Josh Gaffney Memorial Golf Tournament and silent auction to benefit Josh and his family, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 29 at Falcon Lakes Golf Course. The four-person scramble will cost $90 per person and all the proceeds will go to the Gaffney family.
A memorial fund for Josh has also been set up at First State Bank and Trust in Basehor.
The outpouring of support from local businesses willing to donate items for tournament prizes and the auction has been tremendous, Brown said.
Entry forms can be found at First State Bank and Trust, 15506 Pinehurst Drive, at the intersection of State Avenue and 155th Street, or by e-mailing Brown at email@example.com.
The accident occurred Sunday, when the Gaffney's vehicle collided with another vehicle and overturned on the right side of the roadway. Josh was pronounced dead at the scene.
His father, Tim Gaffney, mother, Vera Gaffney, and 10-year-old sister, Amber Gaffney, were taken to nearby I-70 Medical Center in Sweet Springs. Vera and Amber were treated and released, and Tim was transported to St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., with more serious injuries.
Box said Tim underwent surgery to mend a shattered left arm, and a hospital representative said he was in fair condition late Tuesday afternoon. Friends of the family said the main concern is pain management right now, but Tim is expected to be OK.
The time and date of services for Josh Gaffney have not been announced, but are expected to be at the Alden-Harrington Funeral Home in Bonner Springs. Check basehorinfo.com for the latest updates.