State News

Student From Ohio Killed in Fire Remembered

Posted November 3, 2007 4:10 p.m. EDT
Updated November 3, 2007 6:42 p.m. EDT

— More than 600 people crowded a suburban Cleveland church Saturday to remember a young Ohio woman, one of seven college students killed in a North Carolina beach house fire last weekend, a church minister said.

The 1 hour, 15 minute service at The Federated Church-United Church of Christ was a celebration of the life of Allison Walden, 19, a University of South Carolina sophomore who enrolled at the school because of the warm weather and the campus sorority scene.

Walden was recognized for her energetic and cheerful ways and her commitment to her studies.

"There was lots of laughter, and lots of tears," the Rev. Mark Simone said. "But it was difficult. It's been such a loss to the community."

Five other USC students and one student from Clemson University were killed in the Oct. 28 fire at a house in Ocean Isle Beach, where they had been spending the weekend. Six students from USC survived.

"It just boils down to this: It was a tragic accident," Simone said by phone after the service. "I told everyone that I don't know how to make sense of this. I don't believe God takes people. I believe he receives them."

Jerry Brewer, the university's associate vice president for student affairs, and a half dozen of Walden's sorority sisters traveled from South Carolina to attend the service, Simone said.

Justin Michael Anderson, 19, was laid to rest Saturday in Greenville, S.C. There was also a funeral service Saturday for Travis Lane Cale, 19, in Simpsonville, S.C.

Cassidy Fae Pendley, 18; Lauren Astrid Kristiana Mahon, 18; William Rhea, 18; and Emily Lauren Yelton, 18, also died in the house fire at 1 Scotland St.

Due to the extensive damage, it was impossible for investigators to uncover a definite cause, but they speculated that the blaze could have started from improperly discarded smoking materials, Ocean Isle Mayor Debbie Smith said Friday.