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Tragic death of Seymour 17-year-old leaves lasting legacy

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Many in our community are still mourning the death of 17-year-old Zane Hadden, of Seymour, who passed away a month ago on Sept. 10. Though the Seymour High School graduate’s death was tragic, his mother says his life was full of love and his legacy will live on.

“There were 17 minutes between the original attempt of pulling Zane over and the wreck that took his life… Teenagers are not going to stop drinking just because of a tragedy, but maybe Zane’s story can bring awareness to this issue,” said Tina Hadden, Zane’s mom. “We can’t change what’s already done but I can try and help someone else and hopefully save a life.”

According to the police report, a patrolman for the Seymour Police Department attempted to pull Zane over around 1 a.m. that Friday morning, after observing his truck fail to maintain its lane after exiting the Signal Food Store near US 60 and Loveland Street. The officer followed Zane to the end of city limits, where the pursuit ended due to visibility and the reported dangerous nature of the road surface. Shortly after, a deputy of the Webster County Sheriff’s Department located a vehicle matching the description of Zane’s truck and both policemen headed down Oak Lawn Road, where they discovered the vehicle engulfed in flames about two miles east of Seymour.

According to the state patrol report, Zane was driving a southbound 2002 Chevrolet truck and was not wearing a seatbelt when it “failed to negotiate a curve, traveled off the roadway, struck a fence and a large tree.” Police were able to confirm Zane’s identity through video footage from the Signal Food Store and notified the family of the accident. Zane was pronounced dead by the Webster County Coroner at 2:30 a.m. Friday morning.

“Zane was with two other people at that gas station… Nathan Champagne and another boy who was younger than Zane. Surveillance footage shows that Nathan went inside and bought a bottle of liquor,” explained Tina. “[The boys] left the station only to return an hour and a half later and Zane was stumbling through the parking lot before he got in his truck and started heading home… when the officer tried to pull him over, Zane resisted by speeding off.”

Nathan Champagne, 22, of Seymour was arrested on Sept. 16 and charged with two counts of Supplying Liquor to a Minor or Intoxicated Person and 2nd Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child relating to the 16-year-old that was with him and Zane. According to court records, Champagne is scheduled to appear in the old Webster County courthouse in front of Judge Elizabeth V Rohrs at 9 a.m. Oct. 21.

“There is still an ongoing investigation but I think the biggest thing that people need to take away from this is to not drink and drive,” Tina added. “I’m angry and confused but mostly devastated and heartbroken… I will never be able to see my smiling baby boy again and I pray that his story stops others from making the same choices. Take your friends' keys. Don’t let friends drink and drive and please, never buy alcohol for a minor.”

Zane will be remembered as a kid who had big dreams and would give the shirt off of his back to anyone in need. Tina says the community has been wonderful in sharing sweet memories of her son and thanks all of those who donated toward Zane’s funeral expenses during this difficult time. She also has plans to continue sharing her son’s story and remind others that when in doubt, always take the keys.

“He was just a loving kid and he didn’t care if you didn’t have money, didn’t care what your social status was… he was loyal to those that he loved,” Tina recalled. “It warms my heart to hear the stories his friends have shared and to know that he was a good person down to his core. He was brutally honest when it’s what you needed to hear. But he was tenderhearted and he felt his emotions deeply. His spirit will live on through those who knew and loved him.”

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