Former JSU student Colten Farley dies following Anniston assault

Colten Farley, a former student at Jacksonville State, died on March 25 following an assault in Anniston. (GoFundMe)Colten Farley, a former student at Jacksonville State, died on March 25 following an assault in Anniston. (GoFundMe)

Ally Morrison, Correspondent

Former Jacksonville State University student Colten Farley, 23, died on March 25 as a result of a physical assault on Noble Street in Anniston.

Around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday March 21, Farley was out with friends in Downtown Anniston when he was punched and knocked unconscious, Anniston Police Chief Nick Bowles told AL.com. The assault was captured by security cameras nearby. 

In the footage, Farley can be seen collapsing and hitting his head on the concrete. Farley regained consciousness at the scene but despite recommendations from medical personnel, refused to be taken to the hospital. 

After being found unresponsive, Farley was airlifted to UAB Hospital for life saving surgery. Farley died five days after the assault.

While friends and members of the Farley family have claimed Farley was targeted for his sexuality in a hate crime, police have said they have not found any indication this is true.

A GoFundMe fundraiser was created to cover medical expenses while Farley was hospitalized and has now raised over $15,000.

Known by many for his kind and outgoing personality, many of Farley’s friends shared fond memories about their time with Colten. 

“Our adventures were nothing short of spontaneous and filled with belly-aching laughs,” said Olivia Bennett, a close friend of Farley. 

Bennett said that Colten had a “magic about him” and made every person he met feel unique.

“I met Colten in 2014 as we were training to become Alabama FFA State Officers. From the moment we met we instantly became best friends,” said close friend Lacey Newman. Newman said among both camping trips and prom dates the pair spent a lot of time together. 

“My whole family adopted Colten in as their own,” said Newman. “He was the life of every party and lit up every single room he walked into.”

Maddie Heatherly, a close family friend, shared fond memories she and Farley had together. 

“Never had I met someone who could make me laugh until I was crying or my side ache so bad,” said Heatherly. She said Farley was always the life of the party.

“After a barrel race we all went to dinner and as soon as we walked into the restaurant Colten saw a karaoke machine and was determined to get me on stage singing, that he had the whole restaurant chanting my name. That’s when I knew there would never be a dull moment with him.” said Heatherly, “Colten became such a huge part of my family and always insisted he was my parents favorite- but he was all of our favorites. He was the best ‘big brother’ to my siblings and I and we couldn’t be more thankful for him ‘teaching us everything we know’ as he liked to say.”

In a post made on Facebook by family, Farley’s mother Cindy wrote:

“We never dreamed we’d be making a post like this, but with a heavy heart here we are.  I can’t begin to Thank all of the friends, family, businesses, UAB staff, and just people that Colten has affected in his life. The outpouring of love/prayers that have been shown will never be forgotten. 

Unfortunately Colten didn’t overcome the injury that was caused by a senseless/cowardly act! I still can’t understand why this happened for no apparent reason from someone that was not involved! We still pray for justice to be served!!! 

Colten has helped, influenced, loved, and laughed with people all over this country. He was the type of person that would leave a lasting impression on you! If you ever had the opportunity to meet him…. you would not forget him and if he crossed your mind it would usually leave you with a smile.”

The Calhoun County Coroner has not yet confirmed the cause of death and is awaiting the autopsy result.

The funeral service for Colten Farley will be held on April 1, at First Baptist Church of White Plains. The burial will follow the service on his family’s property.

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