Community shaken, schools offer counseling in wake of fatal bus crash
ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Rock Hill residents who live near Clinton College and Ebenezer Avenue Elementary School may not have know the victims of Saturday's fatal charter bus crash in Richmond County, NC, but they said the loss hits close to home.
Saturday afternoon, a bus carrying the Ramah Juco Academy football team from Rock Hill, SC crashed on its way to a game in Raeford, NC. Dozens were hurt and taken to area hospitals, but four peopled died at the scene of the crash.
The victims have been identified as the bus driver Brian Kirkpatrick, 21-year-old Devonte Gibson, 19-year-old Teto Hamilton and 8-year-old Darice Hicks.
"You're expecting to see your child, and then all of a sudden, your child is gone," said Grier Lee, whose daughter goes to the same school as Hicks.
Gibson and Hamilton were football players with Ramah Juco Academy. A team made up of college-enrolled athletes who are pursuing their dream of playing football at the collegiate level.
Kirkpatrick, the bus driver is from Chester, SC. Victims Devonte Gibson and Darice Hicks were from Rock Hill and and Teto Hamilton is from Pahokee, FL, according to troopers.
"They're trying to make a name for themselves, to leave here and go to a big school, maybe the NFL. A lot of hopes are gone now," said Calvin Forsey, who lives around the corner from Clinton College.
Darice Hicks was a third grader at Ebenezer Avenue Elementary School in Rock Hill.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hicks family and all other families impacted by this tragedy," Mychal Frost said on behalf of Rock Hill Schools.
Since hearing about the deadly crash, neighbors can't help but think of the victims' families.
"Thinking of my own children, and how it would be to lose my own children, something tragic when they're doing something right, trying to do things right in their life," Forsey said.
Rock Hill Schools said they will be offering counseling this week at Ebenezer Avenue Elementary School and Northwestern High School where Gibson graduated in 2012.
"Students inevitably have questions. Faculty and staff have questions and are hurting. Like I said, they are part of our family, and we have lost two members of our family," Frost said.
Counseling will also be available at Clinton College where Gibson and Hamilton were students. Monday's classes at the college have been canceled as student mourn the loss of their classmates.
A statement from the school said the two young men were "entrenched parts of the Clinton College family."
The Clinton College family is mourning the passing of two our students in a tragic bus accident near Rockingham, N.C. 9/17/16. During the brief time that we have had these young men, they have become entrenched parts of the Clinton College family.
We appreciate the outpouring of support from our local community as well as nationally. Our biggest priority is to offer support to our traumatized student body, faculty, and staff. We ask to do that in private.
The local Rock Hill Red Cross will be here to aid the college 9/18/16. Classes will be cancelled 9/19/16 for all students and counseling will be available at that time.
Please keep the families and friends of these two young people in your prayers and continue to pray for the college.
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