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Principal: School 'Somber' After 2 Students Killed in Crash

Posted November 8, 2007

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— Two students from Green Hope High School died Wednesday in a traffic accident in Chatham County, school officials said.

Andrew Thomas Butler, 17, and a female passenger, whom friends identified as Catherine Moutchkina, were in a 2001 Nissan Sentra on O'Kelly Chapel Road near the entrance to the Hills of Rosemont subdivision when the car veered off the road, authorities said.

Butler over-corrected, and his vehicle collided head-on with a sport utility vehicle, authorities said.

Butler, a senior at Green Hope High, and Moutchkina, a junior at the school, died at the scene, authorities said.

The driver of the SUV, Tara Elizabeth Howard, was taken to Duke University Hospital with a leg injury. There was no word on her condition Thursday afternoon.

Speed was a factor in the wreck, authorities said.

Many Green Hope High students learned about their classmates' deaths as they arrived at school Thursday morning. Grief counselors were on hand to help the students cope with the loss.

"I would describe the atmosphere as somber," said Principal James Hendrick. "Any time you lose two members of your student body in a tragic accident, it certainly creates that feeling throughout the building."

Friends said Butler and Moutchkina loved music. Butler was supposed to graduate in the spring and planned to attend college.

"A lot of people knew [Butler], and a lot of people were sad to hear about the news. He was just a great guy," said Dustin Geckeler.

"They say the good die young. Catherine was definitely a good person. She always was," said Kyle Binkley. "She had a way of making people smile."

A group of students erected a makeshift memorial Thursday afternoon near the site of the wreck.