Students at two Raleigh high schools were reminded this weekend how quickly life can change.
On Friday morning, three 17-year-old Cardinal Gibbons High School students were injured in a car wreck that temporarily closed Chapel Hill Road in east Cary.
Later that afternoon, four members of the Broughton High School girls’ cross-country team were injured in a single-car crash on N.C. 4, south of Littleton.
Over the weekend, teens and their parents were dealing with somber news at a time they typically would be caught up in events related to the start of a new school year.
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More than 1,000 messages on email, Facebook and other social-media sites sounded support and encouraged all to pray for the injured teens.
The Capital Community Church in Raleigh, where two of the girls were members, held a vigil Sunday afternoon for the Broughton students and leaders asked prayers at additional places of worship. The Broughton students, according to Leon Tucker, pastor of Capital Community Church, had been together at Lake Gaston and were on their way home.
N.C. State Highway Patrol troopers said Anne Crone, 17, the driver – the only one wearing a seatbelt – over-corrected the SUV she was driving after running off the right side of the road.
The vehicle flipped several times, according to troopers. Tessa Jones, 17, and Jane Fountain, 18, who were sitting in the front and rear passenger-side seats, were thrown from the vehicle.
Jones, who was reported to be in good condition Sunday at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, sustained injuries to her shoulder, her wrist and back. Tucker, her pastor, said he was told there were no signs of spinal-cord injury.
Fountain was flown to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, where troopers said she was in critical condition.
Grace Barnard, 17, was treated for minor injuries at WakeMed in Raleigh and released from the hospital on Sunday. Crone was treated at the scene.
Troopers said they were still investigating the crash but speed and alcohol were not factors.
The Cardinal Gibbons students – identified as Laura Santiago, the driver, and passengers Matthew Sheehan and Annetta Santiago – were returning to school from lunch when the multi-vehicle collision occurred. All were in stable condition and recovering at WakeMed in Raleigh.
Tucker has known Tessa Jones and Janie Fountain for many years.
He had similar descriptions for both — friendly, well-liked students who deftly juggle academics and athletics.