Colquitt County High School students grieved Monday for two 16-year-old friends who died in a Saturday afternoon single-vehicle collision.
Madison Sumner and Mary Holt Statom, described as long-time best friends, were killed in the crash at about 1:20 p.m. on Old Berlin Road.
The Colquitt County School System brought in counselors from its elementary schools and Willie J. Williams Middle School, and a number of ministers from the community also helped students deal with the tragedy.
Counselors will be at the school throughout the week as needed, said Carl Tolbert, student minister at Trinity Baptist Church, where Statom attended the youth program.
“It’s going to take some time,” he said. “We were busy all day, letting kids get together and talk, share and cry and talking about how we can work through this together and be able to accept — not to forget, but to accept.”
Many of the young people shed a lot of tears through the course of the day, he said.
Tolbert remembered Statom as inquisitive, well-liked and with an adventurous spirit.
“Mary Holt was just really a sweet girl,” he said. “I know that’s a generic term, but it’s not generic with her. One of the things I remember about her is when she gave me a hug it was real and honest.
“She always asked honest questions. She loved. She loved everybody and she was carefree. I think she always had this rambunctious look on her face, and she was five steps ahead of everybody else.”
Dealing with the deaths of two young people will take some time for the community, Tolbert said.
“Everybody’s just shaken up,” he said. “Mary Holt was just so special to everybody. People are going to miss her.”
Colquitt County High soccer coach Jimbo Jarvis said that as was the case last year with former player Lori Sha Wetherington, a metallic replica of a jersey will be dedicated for Sumner, who would have played her second season with the team later this year. Statom also had played soccer at the junior varsity level before transferring this year to a school in Thomas County.
Last year, Jarvis recalled, Sumner came to him and said she wanted to be the best player he had ever coached, and she worked to achieve that goal. Jarvis said he used her determination as an example to other players on the team.
“I think Madison was one of the finest people you ever wanted to be around,” he said. “She was always doing what she wanted to do, how she wanted to do it. She was just a great person.”
On Monday afternoon Jarvis met with the team to discuss the tragedy.
“We had a meeting, we had all the girls together to talk and get anything they wanted off their chests,” he said. “This is one of those things that’s tough to understand. All we can do is put our faith in the Lord and one day his answer will be revealed.”
A number of students at the high school left early to deal with their grief away from campus, he said.
The soccer players will attend both girls’ funerals on Wednesday as a group wearing team jerseys. Jarvis said he also will give Sumner’s white home jersey, signed by players, to her family.
The Georgia State Patrol said that Statom was driving east in a 2012 Hyundai Genesis Coupe that left the roadway as she was trying to make a curve. Two of the car’s tires ran onto the shoulder, causing her to lose control.
The car struck a mail box, then went into a spin before striking a tree with the passenger side and coming to a stop, patrol reports said.
The report did not give an estimated speed of the car at the time of the accident.