People describe Stephen Cage, the 19-year-old Tarleton State University freshman from Conroe killed Tuesday in a car accident, as a great leader and good friend.

Bill Johnson, his uncle, said, “I can't say enough about him - he was just a super young man and had everything going for him.”

J.C. Cage, his dad, said he is comforted by the fact that his son died instantly when the driver of the black SAAB hit a retaining wall in a campus parking lot.

The accident is still under investigation.

Some have said the driver intended to hit the brake, but mistakenly pushed the gas pedal instead. J.C. said he had heard that, too, but didn't know if it was true. He said he suspects he may never really know what happened.

Cage, a 2007 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, was a member of the wrestling and varsity football teams.

“He really loved Oak Ridge,” J.C. said. “It's a small school.”

J.C. said his son felt the same way about Tarleton.

“He came home and told his mother, ‘If you think Oak Ridge has spirit - you wouldn't believe Tarleton,'” J.C. said.

After the family received notice from local authorities of their son's death, they drove to Stephenville and were touched by the memorial poster board on the wall at the crash site and decided to add two bunches of flowers.

Cage's sister, 16-year-old Brittany, left flowers and a note of how much she would miss her big brother.

J.C. said his son and daughter were close, but he remembers a time when they used to fight a lot. Stephen had the upper hand because he was an experienced wrestler.

“I used to tell him, ‘You've got to let her win once in a while,” he said.

And he did, just before he left home to attend his first semester at Tarleton.

Three boys came with Cage from his hometown. Kendrick Wilks, Robbie Russell, and Garrett Standling were high school football teammates and lived in dorm rooms at Tarleton together. Garret and Cage were roommates and Wilks and Russell are roommates.

“Stephen and I had the same college and career counseling center class,” Russell said. “I found Tarleton and asked Stephen if he had heard of it. He said his mom said it was a good school. So we decided to come here and Garrett wanted to come, too. Kendrick was coming for football, but he's not playing now.”

“Stephen was a good leader on the football team and a friend that was there for you when needed,” Kendrick Wilks said. “He always gave 110-percent in whatever he did.”

Four boys starting life on their own together, now, only three will return home for visits. Cage will be sorely missed.

Funeral services for Stephen Cage are scheduled for 3 p.m., Saturday in the chapel of Cashner Funeral Home in Conroe. Visitation is 5-9 p.m., Friday at the funeral home.

ANGELIA JOINER is a staff writer for the Empire-Tribune. S