Gone, but Never Forgotten

Staff Writer: Garrett Elder

Willie Nissan, aged 16, went home to be with the Lord on Sunday, October 3. A tragic and lethal case of spontaneous combustion occurred in his bed late that evening. 

Around midnight of that fateful day, his bed suddenly began to smoke, then burst into flames. In just a few moments, the blaze quickly spread through the rest of his body, completely engulfing Willie. When firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after midnight, they knew immediately that it was too late to save Willie. The licking flames were contained, but not before Willie suffered life-ending injuries.

Nissan was preceded in death by his father Frank Sonata. He is survived by his son G.T. Cruiser.

Willie was always reliable, having lived with one family his entire life. Though he was a Charlotte native and spent much of his early life there, he recently moved East to Wingate, NC, to pursue higher education. 

Willie loved to travel, but not as much as many by his age. He made runs all over North and South Carolina, but had the most fun on late night trips through the backwoods outside of Wingate. 

One of Willie’s favorite pastimes was eating doughnuts in the parking lot. 

It really is a terrible turn of events to see someone so young, with so much more life left in them gone so soon. Willie Nissan lives on, but now only in the memories so many shared with him. 

This story was written by Garrett Elder as a reflection and tribute to his recently burned truck. The truck, a grey 2006 Nissan Frontier, caught fire late in the evening on Sunday, October 3rd in the parking lot outside of the McGee Center. Wingate Fire, Wingate Police, Campus Safety, and Residence Life all responded to the scene at approximately midnight. Deputy Chief of Wingate Fire Adam Rorie, who was on the scene, stated that while the fire was suspicious, no cause could be determined.

Unfortunately, there were no cameras surveilling this parking lot at the time, which means that the cause had to be determined by hearsay. Chief of Wingate University Campus Safety Mike Easley stated that he has “requested for cameras to be installed in this parking lot for several years now. There are plenty of cameras elsewhere on campus, just not in this area.” 

One silver lining of this story is that since the fire took place, Wingate Campus Services have installed surveillance cameras in the McGee Center parking lot. 

In the time since the truck was set ablaze, a full investigation involving Campus Safety, Wingate Police, and the Wingate Volunteer Fire Department took place. Following the investigation, an arrest was made for arson in the 2nd degree on October 18. 

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