COLUMBIA — "Enjoy the day" was the theme of James "Jamon" Hickem's life.
"He wanted to do what he wanted to do," his dad, James "Herman" Hickem II, said.
And he did.
Hickem did things expected of a "typical" teenager, such as sneaking out of his window after his father told him to stay home.
"The one thing about him, he did it his way," his grandfather James Hickem said.
James "Jamon" Hickem III was found dead Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011. The exact date of his death is unclear. He was 17.
Preliminary findings support the fact that Hickem fell from nearly 140 feet, medical examiner Eddie Adelstein said. Hickem's body was found Tuesday by a worker at Boone Quarries.
It will still take a couple weeks before the medical exam is complete. Adelstein is trying to determine whether any drugs were involved and whether there was something in Hickem's brain that might have affected his balance and caused him to fall. He said there is no evidence of foul play.
Hickem wasn't supposed to be at the Cosmopolitan Park skate park when police responded to a call about minors drinking and smoking Nov. 11 because he had been issued a prior one-year trespass warning. After claiming the alcohol was his, he ran from police into the woods.
Four days later, Hickem was found one mile away.
Hickem loved skateboarding and being with his friends.
"I think it was a release for him, to release some of his built-up emotions," Barbara Hickem, his grandmother, said. "He could just take it out by skating, jumping, and when he landed, it was a rush. He brought something to himself to make himself feel embraced and empowered."
He was good at it, his cousin, Talejah Scott, said. He could do tricks that would launch him in the air.
"People would be out there telling him, 'Hey, you know you did good.' It felt good to hear that you were doing something good," she said.
One day, Scott and Hickem were sitting on the front porch. He had his skateboard and was attempting to do a trick. His aunt's brand new car was parked nearby.
Scott tried to tell him he needed to stop before he hurt himself or the car. Before she could finish talking, the skateboard flew into the car.
Hickem came in and fessed up to what he had done — though his aunt would have known, since he's the only skateboarder in the family.
"He has a little trouble he had been into, and nobody's saying he was perfect," his father said.
His family thinks that he ran because he didn't want to get arrested and wishes they had known sooner that he had ran from police.
"We couldn't look for him, if we didn't know he was missing," his father said.
Hickem's father talked with him on Friday afternoon, before the police came in contact with him. When his father didn't hear from Hickem on Saturday, he figured he would see him Sunday, he said. When he didn't see him Sunday, he still thought he would see him at some point.
But then people started saying that they hadn't seen Hickem since Friday. It would have been a different story if he had known that, his father said.
Hickem also loved being with his friends. He was a junior at Hickman High School. Although he didn't like school work, he liked to go because of the things that were in school: girls and buddies. His girlfriend, Libby Bopp, was with him at Cosmo Park the day they encountered the police.
"He was always happy. He didn’t have a reason to be upset about anything," said Dylan Westhoff, a friend of Hickem's since seventh grade. "If somebody else was upset, he would try to make you feel better."
Hickem touched a lot of people and had a wide array of friends, his grandmother said.
Scott said she hopes Hickem's friends learn from his death that it's easier if you stay and accept responsibility.
"In his mind, he thought he was going to go sit in jail," his father said. "He damned sure didn't want to do that because then he wouldn't be free to do the things the wanted to do."
"And enjoy the day!" the family chimed in.
Hickem is survived by his mother, Mary Elizabeth Green Logan; his father, Herman Hickem and his wife, Tammy Redden; maternal grandparents, James and Mary Green; paternal grandparents, James and Barbara Hickem; three brothers, Cray Logan, Gary Gibson and Brandon Redden; a sister, Latisha Hickem; and many aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members.
Services will be held 1 p.m. Saturday at Grace Bible Church, 601 Blue Ridge Road.
Condolences can be posted at nilsonfuneralhome.com.