Community mourns trio of cowboys lost too soon

MOORE HAVEN — A wave of grief has washed over this community and a wide group of local cowboys, cowgirls and their families, friends and acquaintances all during this past week. Anyone who’s on Facebook with friends in this area hasn’t been able to miss the news, and if you drive out U.S. 27 a few miles west and a bit north of this tiny town, it’s impossible to overlook the tribute lovingly erected to their memory. It stands at the spot where three young men were killed in a pickup rollover accident just before 11 p.m. a week ago Sunday.

Memorial to youths collecting mementos. Photos by Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker.

Three makeshift wooden crosses stand there, just past the turnoff for State Road 78 west to LaBelle, and everyone local knows the highway banks a bit sharply north. There is some drainage work ongoing in the area, and at night it is pitch black, Glades County being known for its dark skies.

On each of the crosses, decorations left to recall their marks on their community decorate the raw wood, including cowboy hats and hardhats worn by the victims. The cowboy hats are slightly cocked as though they might be on their heads. Mementos have been collecting there all week, including boots, candles, flowers, and their favorite beers. Several people stopped to visit quietly on Thursday, three cars full during a 15-minute stop.

These three crosses were put up along U.S. 27 within 24 hours after the accident. Mementos were being added by family, friends and neighbors all week at the memorial to the three young men killed in an accident July 21. Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.

Charlie Lee’Quan Ford, 24, was driving north there last Sunday night with five passengers inside his 2008 four-door Ford F-350 pickup truck. He somehow lost control of the vehicle at 10:54 p.m., and the Ford traveled off the divided highway to the right, became sideways and ran into the grass shoulder, where the right portion of the truck struck a street sign. The truck then overturned, and while or after it flipped, Mr. Ford and four of the five passengers were thrown from the vehicle. He and passengers Dustin Levi Chapman, 25, and Easton Bradley Moss, 19, all from Moore Haven, were killed.

Charlie L. Ford, 24, often rode with his close friend Dustin Chapman. Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.

“It was a horrific shock,” said Glades County Sheriff David Hardin, who knew everyone who was in the vehicle.

FHP Spokesman Lt. Gregory S. Bueno said only one person of the six in the vehicle was wearing a seat belt.

“I knew all of the people in the vehicle. It was just a horrific shock. These young men were very well thought of in our community. They all were working cowboys, and all of them come from very good families,” said Sheriff Hardin. “It was a very, very hard hit for our community.”

According to Southwest Florida Online’s Sunday Morning News, the female passengers in the truck — Olivia Nicole Everett, 20, Savannah Jo Devine, 21, and Ashley Wright, 25 — all were taken to Hendry Regional Hospital with injuries. All are from Moore Haven.

Two of the men’s funerals are set for Friday and Saturday, July 26 and 27, and the last will be Saturday, Aug. 3.

Services for Easton B. Moss, 19, of Moore Haven were scheduled for July 26, with visitation at 9 a.m. and the funeral at 10 a.m. at Arching Oaks Ranch in LaBelle (3923 State Road 80, LaBelle, 33935) with Pastor Frank Dana officiating. Burial was to follow at Ortona Cemetery. Akin-Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle was handling arrangements. Mr. Moss is survived by his parents, Brad and Monique Moss of Moore Haven; his girlfriend, Olivia Everett, a sister and brother.

Easton B. Moss, 19, was an avid hunter and outdoorsman. Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.

A ceremony was to be conducted for Dustin L. Chapman on July 27, with the family receiving friends at 9 a.m. and the funeral at 10 at the Ortona Cemetery Pavilion. Married to Ashley Wright, the late Mr. Chapman was 25 and employed at Pike Electric as a lineman, and was father to one son, Hatton, and a daughter, Henlee. All survive him, as do his parents James E. and Calinda Chapman Green, and one sister. Akin-Davis was handling the arrangements.

Dustin L. Chapman, 25, was a regular in the Chalo Nitka parade. Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.

Visitation for Charlie Lee’Quan Ford will be on Friday, Aug. 2, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in Clewiston (438 E. Sugarland Highway, 33440). Burial will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Arching Oaks Ranch, 3923 State Road 80 in LaBelle, 33935. Survivor information was not available before deadline for this article.

This is the Facebook meme that has been used in tribute to the three young men.

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