GASTONIA, NC — This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A 17-year-old has died after he drove off the roadway and hit a tree in Gastonia around 10:30 p.m. on Friday.

Gastonia Police say the crash happened on Robinwood Road near Laurel Lane.    

Thomas Smith IV, 17, was driving a 2006 Ford Mustang heading south on Robinwood Road when he went off the roadway to the right and struck a tree. He died on scene. 

“He had such a big heart and if you were in a bad mood he would lift you right on up,” said Albert Biddle.

“We love T.J. He was an awesome young man that is gone too soon and, he would’ve really been going places in football. It’s sad to see this happen to him,” said Stephanie Walker. 

Some of the people gathering to remember Smith on Saturday  were just with him Friday night at a basketball game before his death.

“I’m heartbroken. I just saw him at school. We’ve been friends for a while. We played basketball and football together,” said Jamillah Fuller. 

The front seat passenger was transported to Caromount Regional Medical Center with serious injuries. 

Investigators with the Gastonia Police Department say speed was a factor in the crash. 

Anyone who may have seen the incident or have any additional information can contact Officer J. Bain with the Gastonia Police Department Traffic Enforcement Bureau at 704-866-6702.