'Derek living his life gave us all lessons to use forever'

'Derek living his life gave us all lessons to use forever'

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore.--Whether on the football field or in culinary class, it was clear 19-year-old Derek Kovack loved making people smile.

Jon Vaupel attended Saturday's service at Cottage Grove High School where he and Kovack graduated together and became close friends. "He was just that kind of guy, always there for his friends."

From wrestling tournaments to prom, Vaupel says Kovack was everyone's friend.

"He was just hilarious and he just always had fun in everything he did," Vaupel. "It didn't have to be exciting but he would make it exciting.  Whether it was at school or at work, it didn't matter he could be having fun anywhere."

Justine Bojarsky smiled thinking of how many times Derek made her laugh at their favorite restaurant. "He would always say that it was someone's birthday, every single time. That kind of thing sticks with you."

After graduating from Cottage Grove High School, Kovack went on to Lane Community College with dreams of going into the culinary field.

But a day meant for fishing, Aug. 30, turned tragic when Kovack's car collided with a commercial truck. The crash also killed his friend Matthew Knee and injured Marshal Lehman.

Lehman spoke at Saturday's memorial, describing the time the friends spent together before the horrific accident.

"It was the best week of my life. I'm just thankful... It sucks it was his time and it tears me apart."

Although the pictures of Derek Kovack might fade, the memories of an athlete and prankster will not.

"As hard as this has been I know that every day Derek lived his life to the fullest," Jon Vaupel shared at the memorial. "Derek living his life gave us all lessons to use forever.  He lives on and on with us, our actions, our spirit, and the way we take on life challenges."