4-H Fair participant dies in one-vehicle crash
JANESVILLE Tears of joy and pain are a typical sight at the Rock County 4-H Fair.
They come from out of the blue and fade quickly like cloudbursts.
Those kind of tears were visible here and there Saturday as 4-H’ers experienced the annual victories and defeats of the fair.
So was another kind. They came from deep inside and went on all day.
Parents’ eyes welled, and they turned their heads, wincing in empathy. Teens hugged each other, trying to understand the loss of a friend and classmate.
Singly and in groups they mourned the loss of Clinton High School junior and FFA member Noah Morris, 16, who died Saturday morning in a one-vehicle crash in rural Beloit.
His family includes parents Jeff and Shelly Morris of the town of La Prairie, and sisters Jessica and Dessa.
Services are planned this week at Clinton High School. The Town of Turtle Police Department continues to investigate the accident.
Emergency responders found Morris pinned in a 1999 Chevrolet Suburban at 6:16 a.m. Saturday on County J east of Smith Road, according to a news release from the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. The location is northeast of Beloit in the town of Turtle.
Morris was westbound on County J when he went off the south side of the road and struck an embankment, according to the news release. The vehicle became airborne and struck a tree.
Morris was wearing his seatbelt, according to the news release.
Morris on Wednesday exhibited two crossbred barrows at the fair. One of Morris’ barrows was selected grand champion of the show. His close friend Nathan McConnell showed the reserve champion hog.
The fair was the 12th show the boys had been to this year, said Nathan’s dad, Rob McConnell. The boys were to leave next week to show pigs at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis.
McConnell was one of the parents who didn’t hide his tears Saturday.
“The kid always brings a smile to everyone’s face,” McConnell said of Morris. “I don’t know if I’m the first to tell you that today, but I bet I won’t be the last.”
He wasn’t. A group of teens sat on Saturday in the Clinton FFA dairy exhibit. It didn’t take them long to warm up and talk about Morris.
“He was kind of a clown,” said classmate Glenn Baumann. “He was always a laughing guy.”
Clinton graduate Mitchell Buchanan continued that thought.
“He was smart, though, too,” Buchanan said. “He always had a smile on his face.”
Morris was a good student and was expected to be a starting offensive linesman this fall on Clinton’s varsity football team, Buchanan said.
Morris had won the right to compete today in the fair’s annual master showmanship competition in which winners in the senior classes of the swine, beef, dairy and goat showmanship classes face off to see who can best handle each of the species.
It would have been a fitting competition for the talented Morris, said Harmony 4-H swine exhibitor Cody Kleven, a student at UW-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course.
“He did a lot,” Kleven said about Morris. “And he was good at everything he did.”