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Hughson High students death leaves classmates mourning
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Students at Hughson High School are mourning the death of a classmate who was killed in a Friday afternoon vehicle crash.

R.J. Barney, 17, son of Rowe and Linda Barney of Roberts Ferry, died instantly in the crash.

Barney was driving to Merced to pick up his sister when the crash occurred at 12:10 p.m. According to the California Highway Patrol, Barney was driving southbound on Oakdale Road north of East Avenue at approximately 75 mph when he approached a slower moving vehicle. Barney began to pass the vehicle and his Ford F-150 pickup began to fishtail. The pickup went off into the east shoulder of the road and struck a dirt embankment, causing the pickup to overturn. The teen was not wearing his seatbelt, the CHP report noted, and he was ejected, landing partly on the northbound lane and east shoulder. Barney was pronounced dead at the scene.

Alcohol was not a factor, according to the CHP.

Barney was a lifelong Waterford area resident where he attended Community Baptist Church.

“It’s a sad day here at Hughson High School,” said Principal Debra Davis on Monday morning.

She said many Hughson High students learned about the death over the weekend through Facebook but an announcement was made to the student body over the school wide PA system followed by a moment of silence.

“He was a good student with a 3.26 GPA, so a strong student. He was involved in agriculture and FFA, which is big on this campus, and he had a couple of periods of welding and work experience,” Davis said.