June 28, 2007

Fairport grads crash

I wanted to share this Democrat & Chronicle story. This is certainly one of the saddest stories I've ever read, and certainly puts many of the "pressing" issues in perspective.

God bless the families of these girls as well is the girls who witnessed this horrific accident.

June 28, 2007

'Hearts are broken': Crash kills 5 Fairport '07 graduates

The nine Fairport High School graduates had a day of relaxation planned: some sunbathing, some swimming, some boating.

With scorching temperatures expected to reach into the 90s Wednesday, a day at a Keuka Lake cottage seemed the perfect opportunity for the nine young women to relax together before they headed their separate ways for college.

But the outing ended in a fiery tragedy Tuesday night when a sport utility vehicle carrying five of the teens slammed head-on into a tractor-trailer in Ontario County, as the other four friends watched in horror from a vehicle following behind.

Killed in the accident were Hannah Congdon, 18; Bailey Goodman, 17; Meredith McClure, 17; Sara Monnat, 18; and Katherine "Katie" Shirley, 18.

The nine friends, who graduated a week ago today, were heading to the Goodman family's cottage in two vehicles.

The collision of the two vehicles was so forceful that both erupted into flames. The driver of the truck was uninjured.

A week ago, the nine young women — who had been close friends for years — walked across the stage as they basked in the formal pomp and circumstance of graduation at the Blue Cross Arena at the Community War Memorial. A future beckoned for each: One imagined herself teaching elementary school kids; another envisioned a career in communications; one already had marked the date for cheerleading tryouts at college.

However, friends being friends, they were not ready to leave each other. So they scheduled a return Wednesday to the Goodman family cottage — they'd also gone there after the recent senior dance — as a chance to spend what could be some final hours together.

David M. Laverty, 50, of Olean, Cattaraugus County, was driving the tractor-trailer west on Routes 5 and 20 when he saw the SUV pass another eastbound vehicle in front of his rig, Laverty told deputies.

Police said Laverty told them the SUV made it back into the eastbound lane, then crossed back over the center line and hit his tractor-trailer.

Keisha said the van that Bailey passed was driving slowly in the right lane. After almost passing the van, she said, it appeared Bailey may have thought the van was swerving toward her and she jerked back into the left lane, running head-on into the oncoming tractor-trailer.

Close behind in the other vehicle, the four friends could only watch in anguish as fire swallowed the SUV. The flames reached 50 feet in height, singeing electrical lines and burning through cable and telephone lines, Povero said.

The four were transported to the hospital, and released after doctors determined they were fine. Keisha said she hardly slept afterward, but found constant comfort Wednesday from her many friends. Whenever she began to cry — and that was often, Keisha said — somebody was always nearby to offer a hug.

On Wednesday, many families spent hours remembering the traits of their friends who had died. Among their recollections:

Before each competition, they'd lie on their backs, hands held, and listen to the song "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan.

Never did they imagine that their support of each other would be as needed as it is now.

"They were angels on earth," Paddock said. "Now they are angels in heaven."

1 comment:

Clark Griswold said...

This is truly a tragic story. A beloved member of my own high school was killed in a terrible car crash just a few years ago and the pain was incredible. I can only imagine what the Fairport community is going through having lost five wonderful girls. My thoughts and prayers are with their families and classmates.