Seana Bettencourt's 18-year-old son died from injuries sustained in a car crash on Route 107 in Salem shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday. Through tearful gasps, she said her son had been on his way to Lynn, running an errand for a friend.
He would never arrive.
The Ford Explorer he was driving collided with a Buick Park Avenue in front of a Wal-Mart and flipped multiple times before stopping, according to eyewitnesses and police. The teen was thrown from the vehicle. Soon, an ambulance rushed him to Salem Hospital.
After hospital workers called her, Seana Bettencourt phoned her husband, Tony, who works in Maine during the week. She rushed to the hospital.
"I stayed there with Corey, and I stood there by his side for 21/2 hours," she said. She didn't want her son to get cold before his father had the chance to say goodbye. Meanwhile, Tony Bettencourt inched his way through the accident traffic, trying desperately to see his son at Salem Hospital, he said.
Seana Bettencourt said her son was slated to take his final GED test later that day, and she called to tell him not to forget his can of Red Bull, an energy drink that helped him concentrate.
"He was such a good kid," Seana Bettencourt said, sobbing. "He was so helpful. He helped anybody. All they had to do was ask."
Her son was "beyond smart," she said, but had struggled to finish school. He had little patience for homework, she said. The day Corey Bettencourt dropped out, his mother said he signed up to take his GED. He knew he was breaking her heart by not completing high school.
One of nine grandchildren, Corey Bettencourt was the only boy, his father said. And his cousins and sisters, 21-year-old Shannon and 12-year-old Janessa, loved him dearly, he said.
Bettencourt's death comes as high school draws to a close, and his electronics teacher Mark Metropolis said the shock of his student's death hadn't really hit him yesterday morning.
"I'm sure it will," Metropolis said.
Bettencourt's teacher for three years, Metropolis said his student had a knack for computers and could fix anything. He could see a future for Bettencourt in the field.
"His forte was electronics from day one," the teacher said.
Metropolis said classmates were saddened by news of Corey Bettencourt's death. A couple of students had stopped by to see the teacher and talk about their friend.
"It's hard because it's the end of school," Metropolis said. "It's very hard. It's hard for the kids. It's hard for the teachers."
Principal Patrick Larkin said school counselors scrambled yesterday morning to notify Bettencourt's teachers and friends and provide a place for students to grieve. Some students were given the option of leaving their final exams, he said.
The principal also said school officials will keep tabs on other students.
"When it comes to loss, we're never quite sure who will be affected," he said. "We try to keep our eyes open."
Larkin said the school observed a moment of silence for Bettencourt, who was academically a junior, at the end of the school day.
Bettencourt's friends posted messages on his MySpace Web page last night.
Best friend Anthony Estevez, home for the summer from Daniel Webster College, had gone to dinner with his friend a few nights earlier. He had spoken to Bettencourt just hours before the fatal accident and the two chatted about getting haircuts.
Estevez, who met Bettencourt at Peabody High, said his friend talked about his family.
"He was a good brother and a good son," he said.
When Estevez's father died in March, Corey Bettencourt came to comfort him. Estevez stopped by his friend's home yesterday to return the favor.
"He was there for me as much as my family," Estevez said.
Estevez's mother Tammie O'Connor will remember her regular houseguest for his sense of humor and his love of people-watching.
"He really was a people person," she said of Bettencourt. "He would do anything for anyone."
O'Connor stressed that drivers and passengers remember to wear their seatbelts.
Bettencourt's seventh-grade religion teacher at St. John the Baptist School, Linda Belle, said yesterday had been an emotional roller coaster. She has also taught his older and younger sister.
"I am devastated by this," she said.
Just last year, Bettencourt asked her to be his confirmation sponsor. It gave her the privilege of seeing her former student mature from a shy young man.
"He found his own way in electronics and auto mechanics," she said.
Her current student, Janessa, returned to her seventh-grade class yesterday with her mother and sister. Janessa wanted to be near her friends, Belle said. The entire class offered their grieving guests a group hug.
"We were just sobbing and hugging," Belle said, "generally trying to give them as much love and support from our school community as we could."
Belle said Janessa's classmates had made a big card to give to her and her family. Principal Maureen Kelleher and school nurse Eileen Braley joined in their condolences.
Belle said she tried to impress upon her students yesterday the difference a day can make.
"Tell the people that you love that you love them," Belle said.
Yesterday evening, the grieving Bettencourt family clung to memories of their son and brother. They found solace in a song called "If Everyone Cared" by the band Nickelback.
"The words just fit today," Tony Bettencourt said.