A Midway teen seriously injured Nov. 18 in a one-vehicle wreck on Isle of Wight Road died Saturday at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center in Jacksonville, Fla.
Joe Watkins was critically injured and was flown to Shands after losing control of the 2007 Mazda Tribute he was driving around midnight Nov. 18. He apparently lost control of the vehicle after rounding a curve, according to Georgia State Patrol Trooper William Bowman. Watkins was ejected from the SUV.
Last week, his friends held a prayer vigil at the Dorchester Village Civic Center. More than 100 well-wishers gathered in the hope that Watkins would heal from his injuries.
After a brief battle in the intensive care unit, however, Watkins passed away Saturday surrounded by his parents, Jan Williams and Pat Watkins, his older brother, Richard Watkins, and several friends.
Joe Watkins, who lived in Midway, was one month shy of his 19th birthday. He was a Christmas baby, born Dec. 25, 1992, according to his father, who is the Coastal Courier’s web editor. Watkins was passionate about baseball, and he shined for the Liberty County Panthers. As a freshman, he impressed then-Panther coach Steve Cotrell, earning rotation time on the varsity squad. He was named to the 3-AAA All-Region Team during his sophomore and junior years. He was selected to the Georgia Dugout Club’s top 100 underclassmen team and eventually earned a scholarship to play baseball at Georgia Southern University.
Although things didn’t work out for Watkins at GSU, the right-handed hurler still was poised to fulfill his dream and was practicing at East Georgia College, joining former Panther teammates Aaron Hoffer and Justin Eaton.
“My dream has been to play college baseball,” Watkins once told the Coastal Courier, saying he was just 4 years old when he started playing.
Watkins was an organ donor and his family reported his generosity likely will save the lives of nine other people.
A visitation and viewing will be from 4-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Carter Funeral Home Oglethorpe Chapel. A celebration of his life will be at noon Saturday, Dec. 3, on Panther Field at Liberty County High School.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the LCHS Diamond Club Baseball Booster will help buy a new practice pitching backstop. Donations should be mailed to: Adrianne Matthews, DCBB treasurer, at 1223 Pineridge Way, Hinesville, Ga., 31313.