‘No mama should ever hear those words’: 16-year-old killed at Georgia quarry

Brian "Bubba" Thigpen died Friday when he was pinned under machinery at Georgia rock quarry. He was 16.

Credit: Family photo

Combined ShapeCaption
Brian "Bubba" Thigpen died Friday when he was pinned under machinery at Georgia rock quarry. He was 16.

Credit: Family photo

He was still weeks away from his 17th birthday. But Brian “Bubba” Thigpen was already planning for his future and saving money to help his family.

For the second summer, he was working for Terra Excavating at the Vulcan Materials Rock Quarry in Jefferson, his mother told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He had one more year at Jefferson County High School, and Bubba had already been offered a full-time job with the excavating company.

“He told me this year he was saving to get myself and my granddaughter, who he called his pretty baby, a new place to live,” Patty Thigpen said Monday. “He never asked anyone for anything and like myself, he wanted to do for himself. He knows I’ve struggled with being a single parent with three kids.”

On Friday, Thigpen got the call she never imagined. She had spoken with her son earlier and planned to pick him up from work. But Bubba wasn’t coming home. He had been pinned under machinery and had been killed, Thigpen was told.

Combined ShapeCaption
Brian "Bubba" Thigpen holds his niece, Stormi, in this family photo.

Credit: Family photo

Brian "Bubba" Thigpen holds his niece, Stormi, in this family photo.

Credit: Family photo

Combined ShapeCaption
Brian "Bubba" Thigpen holds his niece, Stormi, in this family photo.

Credit: Family photo

Credit: Family photo

“No mama should ever hear those words,” she said. “He left my heart shattered in a million pieces”

Jackson County deputies were called at 1:12 p.m. Friday to the quarry, the sheriff’s office said.

“While in operation, the machinery turned over, pinning the 16-year-old driver underneath, causing his death,” the Jackson sheriff’s office posted on social media. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to this family.”

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OSHA investigators were called to the scene of the teenager’s death, the sheriff’s office said. Vulcan did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment on the incident.

Bubba’s mother believes it was an accident that claimed the life of her son, the youngest of three children known for his kind heart. She was told her son, who worked with two family members, and a cousin had raced to the machinery Friday. Both were eager to finish their work that day, Thigpen said.

For Bubba, that work would hopefully lead to a better life for himself and his family. He wanted to buy a home and didn’t want to see his mother suffer to make ends meet.

“He was the type of kid to help anyone, no matter what they needed help with,” Thigpen said. “He was trying to be the man of the house, being we’re a house full of girls.”

An autopsy was being conducted at GBI headquarters, Thigpen said. Funeral arrangements were pending.