LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Saying goodbye. An emotional Tuesday afternoon in Lauderdale County, as the Warrior community gathered to pay their respects to three Wilson High School students who died in a car wreck late last week.
One by one, law enforcement escorted the hearses and families of the three boys killed to the Wilson High School gymnasium. A final trip to the place Braden Turner, Coby Hines, and Tyler Nelson loved so dearly.
“Very saddening. Walking down the halls is not the same anymore. It’s just very quiet and there is a lot of crying. It’s very sad,” said Wilson High School Senior Brittney Crowson.
Crowson says the boys not being at school really sunk in on Monday. She was overtaken by emotion seeing the empty desk Braden Turner used to sit in.
“I was sitting in class yesterday and I saw it. People were writing on the desk, and that was kind of the hardest part, just to look at the empty desk.”
Lines grew as visitation began just before one. Fellow students, team-mates, even strangers moved by their passing, all wanted to show respect to the families of the boys.
School administrators say the healing process won’t stop with the funeral at Wilson High School. They’re prepared to counsel students for however long it takes.
Notes of sympathy lay next to tokens of days gone by. Cleats worn by Tyler Nelson now hang from a branch of the tree where the vehicle in which they died came to rest.
Peggy Wright and Donna Holt came to the site Tuesday morning; both are bus drivers at Wilson School. Tyler Nelson rode Wright’s bus to trade school every day.
Monday’s bus route was tough for Wright and the students who are used to seeing Tyler with them. A memorial was placed in his honor on the bus.
“They told them that they didn’t want anybody sitting in his seat. They put the bow in the seat, and they all just got in their huddle and they hugged and they cried,” Wright described.
The three crosses are difficult to look at. Three boys who had their whole lives ahead of them.
Bus driver Donna Holt says this tragedy puts a lot of things into perspective. “When someone leaves the house, or leaves from anywhere, if you love them, always say I love you. Don’t ever go a day without saying I love you, because you may not have another chance.”
The landowner says he will keep access to the memorial open for anyone who may need it.