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Classmates Begin to Mourn 3 Friends

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(Left to Right) Ladetra Smiley, Patricia Wade and Winifred Midgette were all killed in Tuesday's accident.
ROCKY MOUNT — Students at Nash County's George R.Edwards Jr. High School began the arduous process of grieving for threelost friends Wednesday afternoon. Three 9th-graders were killed in anaccident 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 PatriciaWade also died in the collision with a tractor-trailer and at least oneother vehicle. A passenger, Denise Pettaway, 18, survived the accident andremains in stable condition at Nash General Hospital. Rain-slicked roadsand the inexperience of the driver, who should not have been behind thewheel with no parent or guardian present, have been mentioned as possiblecontributing factors.

School administrators called for help from across the county, to helpstudents to deal with their loss and the resulting emotions. Counselingwas offered, and no one expected Tuesday to be a normal school day.

Edwards Principal, Clint Johnson, said the needs of the students wereapparent.

Johnson said he spent much of Tuesday reaching out to some of thegrieving students.

There was a team of crisis counselors present at the school to helpstudents figure out their feelings Tuesday. Counselor Susan Kernodle saidit would not be a normal day for these students.

Counselor Meg Evans says a prevailing theme is that students can'tbelieve they'll never see those three friends again.

Some of the counselors had recent experience with this type ofsituation. Just last year, another accident claimed the lives of threestudents at Southern Nash High School.

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