No sooner did Dalton Barnett graduate high school than he was orphaned.
The 18-year-old was in a fatal auto accident that killed his parents, Nancy Barnett, 53, of Ewing, and Lyndon Barnett, 56, minutes after the ceremony on Saturday, reported the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Dalton and his brother, 26-year-old Michael Barnett, were taken to the University of Kentucky Medical Center, where they remained after the tragic accident, which is still under investigation.
“There was a car accident involving he and his family shortly after his graduation ceremony,” Fleming County High School principal Stephanie Emmons wrote on Facebook. “We have learned that his mother, Nancy Barnett, and his father, Lyndon Barnett, both passed away as a result of the accident.”
Kentucky State Police told the Herald-Leader that two vehicles collided at around 9:15 a.m. Saturday in Fleming County. The 12-hour graduation ceremony had started at 8 a.m. to allow for social distancing measures by minimizing the number of people attending at one time, the newspaper noted.
Nancy Barnett was driving when she attempted to make a left turn and hit a pickup truck driving north, police told the Herald-Leader. The truck’s 52-year-old driver, Anthony Bailey, and passenger Nancy Bailey were uninjured, police said. Nancy Barnett died at the scene of the accident and her husband died at the hospital.
The Barnetts had just celebrated their 35-year anniversary in late March, according to People.
School officials remembered the Barnetts as a supportive family, and described Dalton as “a sweet young man” who was “always a joy to be around, and his family has always been very proud of him,” according to the Herald-Leader. He was planning to go into the military, they said.
Proud mom Nancy Barnett had commissioned a t-shirt emblazoned with her pride: “Senior Mom: Some people wait their entire lives to meet their inspiration. I raised mine. Class of 2020.”
“This speaks volumes to the kind of mother Nancy was and to the Barnetts and how proud they were of their family,” Emmons and Superintendent of Schools Brian Creasman said in a joint statement obtained by the Herald-Leader. “The Barnetts mean a lot to our Fleming County Community, and we will be here to support Dalton and his brother as they face the difficult times ahead.”