JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Students say James Belyea, 28, was never short on encouragement or inspiration for his students and athletes at Sandalwood High School.
Senior Blake Nugent said, "He was my best friend, to be honest."
Classmate and teammate DeMarcus Walker agreed, saying, "Me and him used to talk about the Bible a lot."
But now, their hearts are heavy.
A traffic crash late last month sent Belyea to the hospital with life threatening injuries. Police say he lost control of the scooter he was riding on Huffman Road. He wasn't wearing a helmet. And Tuesday, he died from his injuries.
Sandalwood Principal Dean Ledford said, "He was an amazing mathematics teacher for us and technology teacher. And even a better human being."
His loss is being felt deeply, by students and faculty. Belyea was a student athlete himself, a baseball player at UNF.
He identified with the kids. He was a mentor to them. And now, they feel they've lost more than a teacher, they feel like they've lost a friend.
"It's sad news," said Walker. "I try not to think about it that much, but it still hits me from time to time."
Nugent said, "There's not many people like him in this world, to be honest. And I don't think I'll find anyone even nearly as good as he is."
Grief counselors have been available at the school for anyone who needs one.
Services are set for Saturday, September 8th at 11:00 a.m. at the Southpoint Community Church located at 7556 Salisbury Road.
A celebration of life, and a benefit for Belyea's family have been planned. For details, go to the link to the right.