Local News

After Three Tragedies, Erwin Residents Seek Normalcy

Posted August 13, 1998

— The Harnett County town of Erwin is reeling from triple tragedy. In the last eight days, three prominent, well-respected citizens have been buried. Residents of the small town are trying to move on, but it's tough.

Triton High School was the site of Thursday's funeral for popular football player Max Draughon. The community of about 5,000 has had enough tragedies in the past two weeks to last them for the next 10-20 years.

Erwin native Tommi Byrd was laid to rest last Thursday. The former cheerleader and honor student was murdered while camping with her boyfriend. Five days later, Erwin deacon Reubin McNeill was buried. The popular assistant principal was found murdered in Raleigh.

Now, Max Draughon has been laid to rest. The Triton High School class president and stand-out football player died from heat exhaustion suffered on the practice field. Almost every Erwin resident has attended one or two of the funerals.

"I have lived here 70 years, and I hope I never live long enough to see anything of this nature again," said Mayor James Glover. It's really upset the entire community. People just come together as one. You might not know the individual himself or herself, but you know someone who is touched by that family, by that catastrophe."

Triton High School principal Dan Honeycutt knew both Tommi Byrd and Max Draughon. They were two of his most popular students.

"It's been awful to lose two of our very best in a week's time," Honeycutt explained. "You just don't know how it makes us all feel to see our good young people be lost, when they are needed so badly."

All three people that died are some of the best that the community has produced, according to locals. For the most part, Erwin residents remain in a state of shock. It will take them quite a while to get over the last two tragic weeks.

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