Hunter Scofield lived by the motto that he could befriend just about anyone.
The 15-year-old president of the junior class at Hadley-Luzerne High School excelled at his studies and carried a wit that made him popular among the student body. An athlete who played both baseball and basketball, Scofield also had a creative side that allowed him to script short films with his older brother and even compose digital music.
“He was just the nicest kid I knew,” recalled Chris Deuel, 17, a senior at Hadley-Luzerne and a teammate on the basketball squad. “Really funny, really smart, really athletic.”
Employed as a guide with Tubby Tubes Rafting Co., Scofield was riding on a converted school bus hauling 31 customers to a drop-off point on the Hudson River early Saturday afternoon. The ride was like dozens of others made by the company daily, until the bus started down a dirt section of Thomas Road, where, state police investigators believe, a mechanical failure caused the bus to carve a hard left and roll over at the intersection with River Road.
In the chaos, Scofield was thrown from the vehicle and killed as it slid toward a steep embankment running down to the Hudson. Only a small cluster of trees prevented the bus from plummeting to the river. Instead, Scofield was the lone casualty, leaving friends and family in a state of disbelief.
Deuel was supposed to take the court with Scofield in their summer basketball league Monday. Instead, he was placing flowers for his fallen friend at a roadside memorial by the crash site and talking about how to properly remember him on what would have been his 16th birthday in less than two weeks.
“I don’t even know what to think,” said Deuel, crouching down. “Everyone is in shock. We really don’t know what to do.”
The tragedy led Tubby Tubes to shutter the business indefinitely. Phillip Perry, an attorney retained by the company, released a succinct statement on its behalf.
“It is with great sadness that we at Tubby Tubes offer our deepest condolences to those involved in [Saturday’s] accident, and in particular to the family of the employee who tragically lost his life,” the statement reads. “Tubby Tubes will remain closed while the investigation into the cause of the accident continues.”
State police released no other details about the crash Monday. Investigators at the Queensbury barracks have not released the name of the bus driver and were not available for comment.
The state Department of Transportation is assisting state police in the accident investigation. A spokesman for the agency said the bus had a valid inspection sticker that was to expire in August.
The vehicle operated by Tubby Tubes was not subject to the transportation department’s biannual inspection program, which pertains only to school and charter buses. Since the bus involved in the crash was essentially provided as a courtesy to customers, it was only subject to the agency’s roadside inspection program, which inspects vehicles on the highways to make sure operators are in compliance.
Scofield is survived by his parents and an older brother and sister. He was remembered as an avid fan of the Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox and New York Giants and a basketball enthusiast who could recite statistics from memory. He played soccer since middle school, but was preparing to play football with the combined Hadley-Luzerne and Lake George squad this fall.
A funeral service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at the Hadley-Luzerne Wesleyan Church. Grief counselors will remain at Hadley-Luzerne High School throughout the week to help classmates grieve. Paul Berry, the district’s superintendent, recalled Scofield as an honor student who had made his mark on the school community.
“Hunter was highly regarded by faculty, staff and students as a student with a bright mind, interminable kindness for others and unlimited potential,” Berry said in a statement. “He will be missed.”