Classmates Begin to Mourn 3 Friends
Posted September 10, 1997
ROCKY MOUNT — Students at Nash County's George R. Edwards Jr. High School began the arduous process of grieving for three lost friends Wednesday afternoon. Three 9th-graders were killed in an accident on Highway 64 Tuesday afternoon.
The driver of the car, Winifred Willa Midgette, was only 15-years-old. Two of her passengers, 16-year-old Ladetra Smiley and 13-year-old Patricia Wade also died in the collision with a tractor-trailer and at least one other vehicle. A passenger, Denise Pettaway, 18, survived the accident and remains in stable condition at Nash General Hospital. Rain-slicked roads and the inexperience of the driver, who should not have been behind the wheel with no parent or guardian present, have been mentioned as possible contributing factors.
School administrators called for help from across the county, to help students to deal with their loss and the resulting emotions. Counseling was offered, and no one expected Tuesday to be a normal school day.
Edwards Principal, Clint Johnson, said the needs of the students were apparent.
Johnson said he spent much of Tuesday reaching out to some of the grieving students.
There was a team of crisis counselors present at the school to help students figure out their feelings Tuesday. Counselor Susan Kernodle said it would not be a normal day for these students.
Counselor Meg Evans says a prevailing theme is that students can't believe they'll never see those three friends again.
Some of the counselors had recent experience with this type of situation. Just last year, another accident claimed the lives of three students at Southern Nash High School.