Grief Counselors at East Gadsden High School

By: Marise Estime
By: Marise Estime

Authorities say a teen driving a stolen car hit 15-year-old Crystal Riley and her mother, a tragic end to a homecoming celebration.

A dark cloud of pain hovers around students at East Gadsden High School as some shed tears and received hugs to cope with the loss of one of their own.

Authorities say 15-year-old Crystal Riley and her mother Cynthia were walking on school grounds after homecoming when 16-year-old Demetruis Kirkland plowed a stolen car into them, sending both to the hospital.

Crystal died from her injuries.

Grief counselors and several local ministers consoled friends and fellow classmates of Crystal Riley.

Deborah Bailey said, "Everyone is just joining hands to give them condolences or comforting words to let them know they have to make it and take each day at a time."

And they’re doing that by talking about Crystal, a pint-sized cheerleader who some say had a big heart of gold and a jovial disposition.

Blanca Maldonado said, "She always had a smile on her face. She was like a light, a light that never wants to turn off."

Nancy Romero said, "I loved Crystal. She really made an impact in my life because everywhere she [saw] me, no matter where, she'd always come to me and give me a hug."

Friends say Crystal's glowing spirit will always be a bright light in their lives.

"She's gone to a better place and we don't have to worry about her anymore."

Fellow cheerleaders were overcome with grief and had to be escorted off campus. The superintendent and several residents took them out to lunch to cheer them up.

Authorities say Demetrius Kirkland will be tried as an adult. He is facing several charges including vehicular homicide and auto theft.

The mother, Cynthia Riley, is still at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital in stable condition.


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