Mississippi Highway Patrol officers are investigating a fatal crash involving a pick-up truck, in which everyone involved was ejected from the vehicle. The wreck happened shortly before 3:30 a.m. Thursday on Highway 22, just outside Flora, in Madison County.
Rev. Scott Carter is the pastor of Flora United Methodist Church and says the six people involved were old high school friends.
"This is Christmas break they haven't seen each other in several months. So, they were just getting back together renewing old friendships," said Carter.
According to MHP Corporal Odis Easterling, Rachael Hillman, 20, of Flora was killed in the crash. She was thrown from the cab of the white, Ford F-150 when the driver lost control of the vehicle traveling east bound, flipping the truck.
"Rachel was the kind of girl that made everybody smile because she made a bad situation better and she was a leader of her group of her friends," explained Rev. Carter.
The driver, Tyler Renicker, 22, also of Flora, was ejected and is in critical condition at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. The exact location of the crash was on Hwy 22, half a mile west of Shady Grove Road.
Corporal Odis Easterling reports that four other passengers were in the back seat of the truck when the crash occurred. It was previously reported by MHP that the four passengers were traveling in the bed of the truck, which has since been corrected by highway officials.
"It's always a very horrendous thing to see when you come up and have people out of the vehicle because it's overturned. You know the injuries are going to be severe. That's one of those things nobody wants to roll up and see," explained Easterling.
Steven Cumberland and Anna Flowers, both 18, and 19-year-olds Kaysie Bennett and Trainor Storey, all of Flora, were taken to UMC and are in stable condition. MHP said none of the victims were wearing seatbelts. The St. Andrew's Episcopal School Facebook page states:
Due to a tragic accident involving Tri-County Academy students, today's girls and boys basketball games against Tri-County have been canceled. The St. Joe/Hillcrest games will go on as scheduled. Information about tomorrow's games will be provided later today. Pray for the Tri-County community.
Residents who knew the victims drove to the crash site throughout the day Thursday. Justin Hendrick walked along the side of the road in disbelief of what he saw.
"Such a tight knit community. You know everybody that's around here is very devastated by this," Hendrick said.
The crash is under investigation and no criminal charges have been filed at this time.
Arrangements have been made for Rachel Hillman. Visitation will be Friday from 5-7 p.m. at Flora United Methodist Church. The funeral will be held Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Tri-County Academy gymnasium.
Now the town is using social media as a megaphone for updates about the conditions of the survivors.
"Facebook has been an asset to keep people updated because the families are doing all they can to support their child right now so it's hard to reach a family member," said Childress.
Others still haven't seen their friends but constantly checked for information.
"It's been a blessing. That's the only way that I've really been able to keep up with everything. I've definitely ran my phone batteries down many a times just staying on the phone checking updates," said Kris Potts, Holmes Community College classmate of Kaysie Bennett and Anna Flowers.
A Facebook page has also been created and is devoted strictly to progress updates of the survivors still in the hospital. It received over 2,000 likes in a matter of hours.
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