HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Friends and family gathered in Bluff Park Friday afternoon to celebrate the life of 17-year-old Hayden Perry, a rising senior at Hoover High School.
Some came from far and wide.
Garrett Warren towed his fishing boat all the way down from Lake Guntersville that same morning. To him, it was something he had to do.
“The last memory that I have with him was spent here on this boat,” said a choked-up Warren.
Perry was Warren’s best friend, and the two bonded over a love for fishing. They were both out on the water Monday night. Warren tells CBS 42 that the night was fruitful, and even recorded a video of Perry hauling in yet another bass.
It was Perry’s last catch, and the last time Warren ever saw him.
“I told him be safe and have a good night,” explained Warren. “We did what we always did and checked to make sure he had all his baits and tackle with him, then he hit the road.”
Perry never made it home.
Birmingham Fire and Rescue tells CBS 42 that his truck went off the road and crashed into a pole on Interstate 65 Monday evening. He was killed.
“He was too young. That kid was special,” said Warren. “That kid had more opportunity in front of him for a good career in bass fishing than any other kid his age.”
Warren brought the boat down for the memorial service. A fitting gesture in his eyes.
Whenever the two would fish together, Warren sat on the right side of the boat with Perry on the left.
Today, Perry’s seat is empty physically. But spiritually, that seat will always be taken.
“He may not physically be with me on the water, but in my heart and in everybody else’s heart, Hayden will be there along every fish I catch,” said Warren. “For every bass I catch, he will be with me.”
Friends of Perry have set up several means of donating to help his family offset the memorial service costs. If you wish to contribute, you may either donate to the “Perry Memorial Fund” Venmo account or visit the National Bank of Commerce branches on Luckie Dr. or Inverness Center Pl. in Birmingham.