Sad news has come out of Joplin, Missouri. At around 1 a.m. CST, Aunt Tracey, the family's spokesperson and Facebook community administrator, announced that Will Norton's body was found. He was sucked into the EF5 tornado that struck just minutes after he graduated from high school as he drove in a vehicle with his father, Mark.
Aunt Tracey, who many have come to feel affection for her anecdotes about Will's life and family, wrote early this morning:
Everyone, tonight is a sad night for us. I'm sorry to tell you that Will was found but he was not alive. We are grieving deeply. It brightens our lives to know that even in his passing he touched lives. We will write more soon, but tonight we will mourn as a family. Please pray for Mark, Trish, and Sara as well as my parents. God bless you all. Please pray for those still lost and hurting. Aunt Tracey
Young Will had a promising life ahead of him. He was excited to have gotten a coveted spot in Chapman University's film program, was already a skilled pilot, a YouTube sensation, and a skilled artist. He was also a good student: He was in the top 25 percent of his graduating class. His Twitter feeds at @WillNorton and @Willdabeast are filled with jokes, photos of him and his many friends together, and musings about life in general. He also posted Bible verses, including one just two days before tragedy struck. The Tweet was most likely in reference to Harold Camping's doomsday predictions, but it was eery, nonetheless.
The Tweet, via TheBibleVerse, said, "'But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.' Matthew 24:36."
Will's cheerful personality shown through in his YouTube videos, and many of those following his story feel as if they've come to know him through this tragedy. Will's YouTube antics is not his only legacy, but it is a tangible one. Another family member, Keith, posted a note on the "Help Find Will Norton" Facebook community, calling the young man an "inspiration" and that the family is "desperately encouraged by the lives he has touched and is still touching even this week."
You can see his videos on his YouTube Channel here.
Although the announcement was made only minutes ago, condolences for the family have been pouring in. The family asks volunteers who helped to search for Will to extend their efforts to helping to find other missing persons.