Warren Lee Martin, October 6, 1984 to July 17, 2001

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Today when someone dies, a quick Google search can usually reveal a number of tidbits about their life. For example, a visit to one’s Facebook profile may tell you who the person’s friends were, what he looked like, his hobbies, interests, etc.

In 2001, just 10 short years ago, that wasn’t the case. The Internet machine was still coming of age. No one had a MySpace or Facebook account and Google wasn’t the powerhouse it is today.

My friend Warren Martin died on July 17, 2001. While scanning old photos today, I ran across a few of his, as well as newspaper clippings announcing his death. I had a mini-breakdown. Warren was very special to me.

I Googled his name, hoping to read something about him — perhaps something positive that would bring a smile to my face. There was nothing. As far as the Internet goes, Warren Lee Martin from Ruston, Louisiana never existed.

My hope in writing this is so the next time this happens — the next time someone does what I did, he or she will find something relevant, and something positive.

Warren spent the first month of the Summer of 2001 with me at my grandmother’s house. We didn’t do much really — my grandmother lived in a rough part of town. We walked around the slums a bit, listened to music, talked, etc.

Mostly we laughed a lot.

Warren squeezed into the small rear cabin of his brother’s truck and waved goodbye. A week later, he was dead. The next time I saw him, he was in a casket — a place no 16-year old should be.

Warren took a family member’s car in the middle of the night to visit his girlfriend in West Monroe — about a 20-minute drive from the outskirts of Ruston where he lived. I’m not certain what happened there. There may have been an argument — they may have broken up — I’m just not sure.

On the way back, he took a curve too fast. His car flipped and he was ejected. They found his body some 80 yards away.

Warren was born on October 6, 1984. He would be 27 later this year. It’s hard to believe. We thought this picture — a tombstone with his name on it, taken less than a month before his death — was fascinating. We laughed about it for a while. It wasn’t so funny after all.