Heartbreak Highway

Heartbreak Highway

90 mph on Greenwell Springs Rd. Results in Death of 16-Year-Old

CENTRAL — Once again, Central’s antiquated two-lane roads, which are known for deep dropoffs on either side and no shoulders, have combined with a reckless driver to claim another innocent victim.

This time it was a 16-year-old high school student, Phillip Abington of Central, the son of Todd and Vicki Abington.

Young Abington, a student at Bethany Christian School in Baker was an avid thespian who performed for the Central Community Theatre.  On Friday evening, he was on his way to perform in the Baton Rouge Little Theatre production of Crazy Like You when the accident occurred.

According to police reports, his 2001 Honda Civic was hit by a large 2005 Chevrolet truck driven by James Watts III, 31, of Denham Springs.  Police said Watts was travelling at over 90 miles per hour.  Phillip Abington died at the scene.  Watts reportedly sustained minor injuries and was taken to the hospital.

On Sunday, State Police arrested Watts and charged him with reckless operation and failure to wear a seatbelt.  State Police said Watts could be arrested on other charges as well.

The wake for Phillip Abington was held Monday and Tuesday at Bethany World Prayer Center.  The funeral followed at 12 noon Tuesday.

More than 600 attended the services, and most were very distraught at the untimely tragedy.

In an interview with the Central City News Wednesday evening, Phillip’s dad, Todd Abington, said, “He was such a good kid.  All the memories are good.  Whenever I corrected him, he would say, ‘Yes, sir!’ and then he corrected it.”

“He was known for faithfulness and humility.  He would have been so humbled by the outpouring at the funeral.  He would have said, ‘Who are they talking about?’”

“One of the reasons I am mourning is I’ll never see him do so many of the things I wanted to see.  I wanted to see him get married, because he would have been such a great father!”

“The text messages and postings on Facebook have been a great blessing to us.  Some say simply, ‘I love you!’ or ‘I miss you!’  But other messages pour their hearts out.”

“I see God’s hand in my wife and in my team at work.  It’s as if God were preparing us.  And God gave us Facebook and texting, because the messages have given us something to hold onto.”

“I hope people will never forget Phillip.  I keep thinking of the things we did together.  In August, we went to an American Idol concert.  He was different from many teenagers, because he was always willing to spend time with his parents.”

“We so appreciate the thoughts and prayers of so many people — pastors, friends, and even people we didn’t know.  The outpouring has been tremendous.”

“We can’t grasp the senselessness of it.  But we draw comfort from knowing where he is and that we’ll see him again.  Some people came to the service without knowing Christ, and it has opened their eyes.  They heard the Gospel as never before.”

“We don’t know what to do.”

“Not long ago, we went to Grand Isle and spent time with family that we hadn’t seen much in recent years, and they got to know Phillip on that trip.  They were so glowing in their praise of Phillip,  It made me see him through their eyes, and it was very gratifying.”

“I know Phillip was a very careful driver and would not speed.  Yet, here is another car going twice the speed limit.”

“Where are people going that they have to get there so fast?”

“I am not angry, not bitter, just heartbroken.”


Phillip Abington’s mother, Vicki, said,  “Phillip wasn’t a loud, outgoing person, but he lived life out loud!  He lived life to the fullest!”

“He was a listener.  He had a concern for people.  He loved people, and they were drawn to him.”

“Some people have book sense, and he did.  He made good grades.  But he had more — he had good old common sense.  He could figure anything out.  He always had a plateful to do, and we was able to do it all.  He did everything 110 percent!”

“He was talking to his aunt Thursday, and she told me how great it was to have such a son.  She told me, ‘I just want to hang out with him!’”

“He was a gentle leader.  He was a leader but he served in a quiet, humble way.”

“I loved that little boy to the depths of my soul.  I just miss him so much.”

Only last week Phillip Abington was given an assignment in his junior English class to write a sermon on “Eternity.”  That sermon is reproduced above.

Pastor Larry Stockwell of Bethany used Phillip’s sermon on Eternity as the basis for his message at Phillip’s funeral.


Phillip Abington by his friend, Conner Lloyd of the Central City News.

The unexpected death of a child has always been one of the toughest things to deal with for a family. And when it came to Phillip Abington, you didn’t have to be related to him to consider him family. His open heart and inviting personality made many of his friends feel close to him, almost as a brother.

When the tragic accident occurred last Friday, he was on his way to pick up a friend for opening night of “Crazy For You” with Baton Rouge Little Theater where he had a role as Custus, a dancing cowboy. The director for Baton Rouge Little Theater ended Friday night’s performance when she heard the news of Phillip’s accident. The next night, they performed the show in his honor.  Phillip was highly involved with Central Community Theatre where the directors and casts always considered him family.

Phillip was a strong Christian young man who’s heart was really directed toward the Lord. His mother shared at his funeral that about a week before he died, Phillip said “Mom, you raised me right … Because I LOVE Jesus!”

One of Phillip’s close friends spread the word that about two weeks before the accident he had expressed to her “I hate how people always wear black to funerals.  At my funeral I want people to wear bright, happy colors.” He was laid in his casket wearing a light blue shirt with his tap shoes placed by his head and just like he wanted, his funeral service was filled with bright colors.

The service at his funeral was extremely powerful. Many of his friends from Central Community Theatre and Bethany Christian School came to the front of the audience and shared personal stories and poems dedicated to Phillip. But what had the most impact on the service was the sermon given at the end, which was an essay written by Phillip himself.

His parents, Todd and Vicki Abington, shared heartfelt words of peace and gratitude for the more than 600 participants. Todd, through tears, told the group “Looking around this room, I would not have given him up for you in here … But God gave his only son for each one of you in here.”

By Woody Jenkins, Editor, Central City News


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