HURDLE MILLS — A rural Orange County community drew together Monday to say goodbye to two teens killed in a wreck late Saturday.
Huddled against the chill in groups of two and three, they talked about unfulfilled plans and happier times with William Daniel Chase Underhill and Kacie Leann Chamberlain.
The Orange High School students, both 16, were killed around 10:30 p.m. Saturday when the Ford 250 pickup truck they were in ran off the road about a mile west of Mary Hall Road, northeast of Hillsborough.
Two others in the truck were injured. Sam Whaley, 16, of Hillsborough, and McCray Williams, 15, of Mebane, were listed in fair condition Monday at Duke Hospital, a spokeswoman said.
A couple of hundred people had visited the accident site since Sunday, when friends held a candle lighting and released balloons. Thousands more expressed their feelings on Facebook, where a memorial page, RIP Kacie & Chase, had nearly 6,000 likes Monday evening.
Services for both teens will be held this week at New Horizon Church in Durham.
Orange High junior Colton Woody, 17, said he had known Underhill and Chamberlain since they started at Hillsborough Elementary School together. Underhill was fun to be around, whether they were hanging out, hunting deer or “mudding,” he said.
“I had to pull him out a few times” when Chamberlain’s truck got stuck while slinging around in local mud holes, Woody said.
Underhill was an avid outdoorsman and a member of the Orange High School Swim Team, Shooting Club and Future Farmers of America, friends and family said. He also was a former middle school state wrestling champion. He leaves behind father Kevin Underhill and his wife, Beth; mother April Underhill Andrews and her husband, Chris; a brother and four sisters, according to an obituary.
Woody, who lives nearby, said he was one of the first to find his friends Saturday, and he will never forget it.
“I want everybody to learn from this and to not speed or drive recklessly,” he said.
Trooper Greg Ingram said Highway Patrol investigators aren’t sure yet who was driving the truck. None of the teens was wearing a seatbelt. Three were thrown from the truck, and a fourth was partially ejected, he said.
Patrol investigators were at the scene Monday afternoon. The truck ran off the left side of the road, and when the driver overcorrected, it ran off the road to the right before hitting a mailbox and a tree, Ingram said.
Speed may have played a role, he said. The accident happened just past a curve along a largely straight part of the road where the speed limit is 55 mph.
The patrol also is investigating whether anyone was licensed to drive at that time of night. The state’s graduated licensing program lets 16-year-olds drive between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. for six months under a limited provisional license, after which they can get a full provisional license until age 18.
Chamberlain pitched for her varsity softball team at Orange High, loved horses and always had a smile, her friends said. She worked at Vinny’s Italian Grill and Pizzeria in Hillsborough and leaves behind her mother, Angie Carden Hurdle, and her husband, Ron; her father, John Philip Chamberlain, and a sister.
Two memorials were at the site Monday. One for Chamberlain had a T-shirt signed by her Vinny’s co-workers. “Fly high, beautiful,” it said. Beside it hung a black cowboy hat, with teddy bears and a panda on the ground below.
An Orange High jersey lay in front of Underhill’s memorial, which was covered with flowers.
Zina Almers said Chamberlain and her daughter, McKenzie, were part of a tight-knit group of girls who did everything together. Their weekly ritual was to stop at Kerr Drug for coffee, she said. They brought coffee to the accident scene Monday to remember Chamberlain before going ahead with a sleepover she had planned to attend, Almers said.
“It’s so sad they even have to experience this kind of pain and loss,” Almers said.