Local rising star athlete gone too soon

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Polk County High School senior dies in car accident

MILL SPRING — Local residents are mourning the loss of 17-year-old Markell “Kell” Lipscomb, a rising senior and athlete at Polk County High School.

Lipscomb was killed in a car crash Friday on Pea Ridge Road.

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The wreck occurred around 12:15 p.m. Friday, when the driver of the vehicle lost control. The vehicle flipped and collided with a tree, with three students trapped in the vehicle.

Lipscomb was in the rear passenger seat, and was pronounced dead on the scene.

The other two students, Brayshun Simpson and Willie McBeth, also rising seniors, were injured in the accident. Simpson was reportedly released from care, while McBeth is still in a hospital, though he is expected to recover.

North Carolina State Trooper Matthew Strawbridge said speed was a factor in the crash.

“Our hearts really do go out to the Lipscomb family and the Polk County community,” said Polk County High School Principal Brandon Schweitzer this weekend.

“Dealing with the loss of a family member or friend is very difficult,” said Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene in a statement to the Bulletin on Monday. “It is even more difficult when they are young, and when they are a member of a small, close-knit community.  It’s hard to understand, to try and reconcile the how and why.

“Markell was a talented athlete, [a] friend to many, a young man eager to complete his senior year of high school and embark on adult life.”

Lipscomb led Polk’s football team last season in catches, with 17 for 302 yards and five touchdowns, according to PolkSports.com. Lipscomb was a wide receiver and tight end, and was named the Most Valuable Receiver for the 2017 season.

On defense, Lipscomb had 55 tackles, including 12 for losses and two quarterback sacks last year.

Polk County High School football coach Bruce Ollis said players had to account for number 30 (Lipscomb) on both sides of the ball. Ollis said Lipscomb was a leader on the field, and was one of the better players last season.

“[He was] one of the finer athletes I’ve ever coached,” Ollis said. “He was a five-tool player for us: he could catch the ball, he could block, he could run fast, he could [play] defense and he was also a leader on the field.

“One thing I remember about Markell is that he always had a smile on his face. I know his teammates liked being around him. Markell wasn’t a big talker, but he certainly led by example.”

Lipscomb was an equal threat on the basketball court. He averaged seven points and four rebounds per game during his junior year, according to PolkSports.com.

The student athlete also ran track for the Wolverines.

Polk County Schools has scheduled a remembrance ceremony at the high school auditorium from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday for classmates and friends to gather and share memories. Counselors will be available to speak with students.

Lipscomb is survived by his parents, Chakya Wilkins and Maurice Lipscomb (JaVona), of Tryon; two sisters, Terrica Wilkins and Kaiyla Wilkins; two brothers, Marquise Lipscomb and Jahkeem Lipscomb; maternal grandmother, Cynthia Wilkins; maternal grandfather, Harrison McDowell; paternal grandmother, Barbara “Honey” Fox; uncles, Marshall (Chamelle) Lipscomb, Josh Wilkins and Gary Wilkins; and an aunt, Elaine Wilkins.

Lipscomb was a member of Saint Luke CME Church in Tryon, where he served on the usher board.

The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at McFarland Funeral Chapel in Tryon. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the funeral chapel, with burial to follow at the Good Shepherd Cemetery in Tryon.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses. To donate, people can go to gofundme.com/markell-lipscomb.

“The Wolverine family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of one of our own,” Schweitzer said. “Markell was a rising senior with a promising future at Polk County High School and beyond.”

Ollis said anytime there is a situation like this, everyone’s hearts are heavy.

“We’re going to have heavy hearts for a good long time,” Ollis said.