EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSRiverside High Mourns Loss Of Student
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Kera Mashek
Videographer: Bill Oldani
Web Producer: Kera Mashek
Reported: Jul. 29, 2013 10:46 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 30, 2013 12:59 PM EDT
BELLE , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A Kanawha County community is coming together to mourn the loss of a local high school student, killed in a car crash Friday. Sadly, it's the second student from Riverside High to die in an accident in just the past few months.
16-year-old Colin Qualls would've started his junior year at Riverside next week. His friends and family are heartbroken, and hope lessons are learned from the circumstances surrounding his tragic death.
A stadium packed with Riverside High purple Monday night, but not for a football game. Instead, there were candles, hugs, and prayers as a community tries to heal from losing a beloved student, Colin Qualls.
"He really knew how to make you laugh, and I'll always remember him for that," said Qualls' friend Mackenzie Smith.
"He could make anyone's day. He was extremely free spirited in a really good wya and so fun to be around," said Qualls' friend Karlee Bolen.
"Most of you knew him as a really good friend and he was. But being his brother was the best thing I could've ever done," said the victim's brother, Matthew.
Monday night's gathering is an important part of how this community is grieving together, and will begin to heal together.
"We're always there for each other and we find a way," said Valery Harper, Riverside principal.
But school leaders know this loss is especially tough, since it's the second time a Riverside student has died this year. Back in may, 16-year-old Patrick Petry died in a dirt bike accident.
"Kids have a lot of questions right now that even adults struggle with answeing so it really make us reflect as a school of what we're doing and what we need to do to prevent and hopefully ensure this never happens again. Once was enough. Twice is unbearable," Harper said.
And Qualls' death comes with an added concern. Police are investigating whether the driver of the car he was in was driving drunk, leaving one lesson at this vigil to ring loud and clear at the vigil: all choices have consequences.
"I feel like we should learn for the mistakes and this should be a lesson to everybody," said Smith.
"Just be careful who you hang out with and stay on the right track. And I think with God, you can always stay on the right track," Bolen said.
We're told criminal charges are "forthcoming" against the driver in the crash that killed Colin Qualls. Meanwhile, his funeral will be held at Riverside High School Tuesday.
The school's principal says staff will be having serious talks about how to teach students the importance of making wise choices--in hopes this kind of tragedy doesn't repeat itself.
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