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Sulphur hero dies in traffic collision just weeks after saving young woman from burning car

The community of Sulphur has been touched by the death of Rally Beam, a high school senior. Weeks earlier, he was called a hero for pulling a Davis girl from her car moments before it was engulfed in flames.
by Jennifer Palmer Modified: July 26, 2014 at 10:00 pm •  Published: July 26, 2014

The silver Chevy compact veered off the two-lane county road, flipped onto its top, slammed into a tree and caught fire.

Driving past, Rally Beam, 17, saw the wreck and raced to help. Beam reached into the burning car where Malorie Pope, 18, of Davis, was screaming and crying. She tried to get out, but her head was caught against the seat. She couldn’t move her legs. She thought she was going to die. Beam reached in and pulled her to safety. Rescue workers credited Beam with saving her life.

The Sulphur Times-Democrat ran a front-page story about the June 18 wreck and included a photograph of a smiling Rally, dressed in a T-shirt and baseball cap.

Twenty-three days and 20 miles from the first accident, Beam died when his 2003 Lexus crossed the center line of State Highway 7 just west of Hennepin and struck a semi-trailer.

The July 11 death of the good-natured, high school football standout so soon after he’d been hailed as a hero stunned many in this town of 5,000 near Lake of the Arbuckles about 85 miles south of Oklahoma City. The driver of the truck, Ronnie Percell, 52, of Ratliff City, also died in the accident.

“Kids just realize (now) how precious life is and it can be taken away in a heartbeat,” said Clete Cole, principal of Sulphur High School, home of the Bulldogs. “It shook them up pretty good.”

Unanswered questions about Rally’s fatal crash nag at his father, Michael Beam, 43.

What was his son doing near Hennepin that Friday morning? Was he playing on his phone?

“You know how kids are these days,” Michael Beam said.

An Oklahoma Highway Patrol report doesn’t fill in those gaps. But it does note that Rally Beam was distracted before the deadly collision, by what is unknown.

‘Turning point’

As a sophomore, Rally Beam was the offensive star on the football team, playing running back, tight end and kicker. He also led the team in tackles.

“He was the kind of guy that when he tackled you, you knew you’d been tackled. He brought the house,” said Bill Leveridge, pastor at Crossway First Baptist Church in Sulphur, who also announces the town’s football games.

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by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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