(TRIMBLE COUNTY, KY) -- He's considered a local legend in the world of Motocross. Wednesday night, 18-year-old Nick Howard died after the truck he was a passenger in hit a tree in rural Trimble County.
Friends say it was a normal activity for Nick Howard. Taking advantage of spring break, to get some extra time riding in the sport he loved and excelled in. One moment he was spending time with three of his best friends, the next he was gone.
"That's just how most people probably think of Nick," said Pastor Robbie Caswell. "A dirt bike or a fishing pole and always a smile on his face."
Nick was a standout in the sport of Motocross, starting when he was just six years old.
"Well here in the local area, at the local tracks, where he considered his home tracks, he was absolutely dominant," explained Jason Garner with Yamaha of Louisville. The company sponsored Nick during his career.
Nick Howard was a leader on and off the track. He was an active member in the Fellowship of Christian Athlete's Motocross Ministry.
"He is a local legend in that community. The motocross world," said Pastor Caswell, who worked in the Motocross Ministry with Nick. "All these kids just flocked to Nick. And Nick always made time available for the youngest to the oldest."
Nick died after the truck he was riding in hit a tree along Palmyra Road in Trimble County. Three of his best friends, 17-year-old Zachary Liter, 17-year-old Nick Long, and 16-year-old Jacob Gross were also injured in the crash. Police say none of the four were wearing a seat belt.
"One moment they are just having fun, living life to the fullest, just being nice young men and just a freak accident happen," said Pastor Caswell.
Nick had just qualified for the Loretta Lynn Amateur National Championships.
"That event itself can definitely be a spring board into factory sponsorships and national recognition," explained Garner.
But friends say most of all they will miss his ability to encourage kids in the right direction.
"You know he was a natural leader. People followed him," said Pastor Caswell. "The influence that he could have over others is certainly something rare and something that is lost."
Podium 1 Racetrack in Charleston, Indiana, where Nick won numerous championships, will hold a special memorial ceremony for him Saturday at 7:30 p.m.