Local News

First of Ten Plymouth Teens Laid to Rest

Posted August 2, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— It was another painful day in the town of Plymouth, as family and friends said goodbye to Clayton Chesson, the first of 10 teenagers the town has to bury this week.

Wednesday afternoon, 10 young people were killed when their Ford Explorer skidded into the path of a tractor trailer. They were all friends and band members at Plymouth High School. The first funeral was Saturday. It was a tremendously emotional ceremony, and just the beginning of the healing process for an entire community.

Clayton Chesson is characterized as a boy who loved his music. His death is something many people just can't comprehend. Family and friends held onto their faith as they said goodbye to Chesson. Pastor Rodney Williams reminded a packed Bethel Church of Christ congregation that no matter how old or young we may be, we will all leave this earth.

That's something many are struggling to understand. Kristen Sawyer knew the band members in the accident. She says they were too young to die. While mourners tried to understand how so many young people could be taken, many wept openly and painfully. A nurse was on hand to help those in need handle the pain.

That pain soon turned to celebration of Chesson's life-- a life full with friends and with music. A special trumpet tune was played in his memory.

Band director Leroy Bland remembered Chesson with a poem. Struggling to keep his composure, Bland sobbed during the first of many tiring days to come:

I can hear the trumpets playing in God's heavenly chorus, The sweet sound fills the night air such as a whisper of an innocent child, Play on children, play on.

The poem was sent to Plymouth High School by a woman in Henderson who felt drawn to a tragedy many counties away. For now, the small Washington County community will spend many days asking why such a terrible accident had to happen.

Thursday, all 10 band members killed will be remembered in a memorial service at the high school. The service will get underway at 6:00 p.m.