WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – A James Madison University student from our area killed in a violent crash is being remembered at his former school as “a man of substance.”

Joshua Mardis, 19, who went to school at Williamsburg’s Walsingham Academy, was one of three JMU students killed last week when the car in which he was a passenger ran off the road and hit a tree on the West Virginia-Virginia line. 

Two other students were hurt. 

We reached out to the Hardy County Sheriff’s Office in West Virginia, and the sheriff there said the crash is still under investigation.

The sheriff told us the accident is still under investigation, and there is no further comment at this time.  

There are a lot of questions as to what happened, how it happened, and a lot of families want answers. 

But this story is not about that. 

This story is about Joshua Mardis, who impacted the world in which he lived. 

Friends tell us he grew up in a strong family, 

“He grew up in a loving family, and they have to be devastated,” said Sister Mary Jeanne Oesterle, head of school at Walsingham Academy, 

“Thank goodness they are people of faith, and that this is the only thing that is going to get them through,” Oesterle said. “It’s the only thing getting our teachers through to be honest.” 

When administrators let the school know about the death, it had an impact. 

“You could just hear the hush in the building because he was so loved,” Oesterle said.

Joshua Mardis (Photo courtesy: Walsingham Academy)

Walsingham is a small school with 515 total students, and just 200 in the upper school, so Joshua’s death is like the death of someone more than just a friend.

“We care so deeply for one other, and we are really a community of faith and love,” Oesterle said.  

Angie Baker, Walsingham’s upper school director, said he was a quiet person, but also dependable.

“He was not the guy who would assert himself,” Baker said. “He was not the loudest guy in the room, but you could count on him to be in the room.” 

Said Oesterle: “There was never a day when a student in this school did not need a shot in the arm, a little help, a little whatever, a slap on the back, it’s going to be OK, it’s going to be all right, and he learned that from his mother and father.” 

We found Joshua’s grief-stricken family at their home.  His father, Kirk, called Joshua his best friend. His mother, Yvette, called him sweet, kind and gentle.  

The parents raised their son to be a great man of substance, and they succeeded.

“Josh touched all our lives,” Oesterle said. “He touched us in a way that we will never, ever forget him.”

 Joshua’s funeral is set for Friday February 17.