Pine Teen Killed In Late-Night Accident

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Darla and Steven McDowell will never forget this year's Father's Day.

Instead of barbecuing in their back yard Sunday as planned, the two grieved the loss of their only son, Steven "Stevie" Doyle McDowell.

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Steven "Stevie" Doyle McDowell

Stevie, 18, died in Pine early Sunday morning in a one-car accident caused by alcohol and speeding, according to Gila County Sheriff's Office Detective George Ratliff.

Stevie, a native of Pine, was pronounced dead at the scene by the Pine/ Strawberry Fire Department.

"He wasn't a bad kid at all," Steven said of his son. "We're all going to miss him. He has left a big hole."

Stevie's mother, Darla, spoke about her son through tears.

"He was so wonderful and rambunctious," she said. "He was just a kid."

Stevie had only two weeks before graduating from a home-study program, after which he dreamed of studying computer animation at Al Collins Graphic Design School in Tempe, Ariz., Steven said.

"He was always drawing," he added.

Whether it was building forts out of his grandmother's sofa cushions, creating video games, wrestling with his sister or playing guitar, Darla said Stevie was always busying himself with something.

Stevie truly enjoyed spending time with his grandmother, Doris "Cookie" Stodghill, and riding four-wheelers with his grandfather, Stan Stodghill, Steven said.

"He loved his grandma," he added. "He liked to spend as much time as he could with her."

Steven said he was not sure where Stevie was headed when he died in the accident around 1 a.m. Sunday, but that he could have been going to his cousin's house.

Ratliff said he is not able to release Stevie's blood alcohol level at the time of the accident and that he and the sheriff's office are still investigating.

Evidence at the scene indicated that Stevie's Ford pickup truck was headed west on Hardscrabble Mesa Road when it veered right, and when overcorrected by Stevie, hit a tree on the left side of the road just before Navajo Lane. Stevie was found dead, still wearing his seat belt, according to a press release from the sheriff's office.

Ratliff said that he thinks this is the first fatal alcohol-related accident in the northern part of the county this year.

Stevie's friends and family gathered Monday at Darla and Steven's house and remembered the young man with chuckles and tears.

One of Stevie's aunts, Deedee Stodghill, recalled how good Stevie was with children and how much they liked him.

"When my son was four (last year), he'd call Stevie and see if he wanted to play, and Stevie would come," she said. "Kids would see him drive by and say, ‘There goes Stevie. Maybe he's coming to our house.' "

Stevie's 15-year-old sister DeAwna said she used to wrestle with Stevie so that he could practice his holds. "He was my whole world," she said.

Another of Stevie's aunts, Ardella Keith, said, "He was our golden boy."

Funeral services for Stevie will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 19 at Pine Cemetery.

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