Students at Burke County High School are mourning the loss of their classmate, 18-year-old Denzell Warthen, who died in a car accident over the weekend. (WRDW-TV / May 7, 2012)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, May 7, 2012
BURKE COUNTY, Ga. -- Monday was an emotional day for many Burke County High School students as they went back to class following a weekend accident that claimed the life of a classmate.
Denzell Warthen, 18, died in an accident early Saturday morning on Highway 56 near Scotts Store Road. Police say the senior fell asleep at the wheel while driving to his home in Midville.
On Monday, counselors from area middle and elementary schools were on hand to help students deal with their grief.
Warthen was on the football team and was supposed to graduate in May.
"Just an overall heavy-hearted feeling. I believe everyone is going through grief," Nakia Williams said.
Williams knew Warthen from school.
"Everyone is just sad, and it's hard going throughout the day knowing one of our classmates has passed on," he said.
Williams organized a prayer service for mourning classmates.
Students filed into the school auditorium to pray and write their thoughts on poster boards.
"Love you and you will be truly missed," wrote Orlando Howard.
Howard and Warthen were brothers on the field, both football players.
"He is a brother, he is a teammate, one of my boys. He is going to be truly missed," Howard said.
Students plan on giving the posters to Warthen's family.
"He made our lives better," Williams said.
School officials say they will honor Warthen on graduation by leaving an empty seat for him. They also plan to give his family his diploma.