Teen killed in accident on way to school

By: Melissa Tune Email
By: Melissa Tune Email

February 27, 2007

THOMSON, Ga.---Thomson High School junior Cheryl Helmly was killed this morning when her car collided with a pickup truck.

It's never easy dealing with death, especially when the life lost is so young. Students and faculty at Thomson High School are grieving over the loss. They say Cheryl had so much living to do and was taken away much too soon.

The flags are set at half staff, and a rock on the campus grounds displays a simple message: "MISSING U CHERYL".

As she was driving on Gingerhill Road on her way to school, her car was hit by a pickup truck driven by 80-year-old Claude Whitaker.

Helmly is described as a bright and ambitious student with a promising future ahead.

"Cheryl was a very popular student and honor student, on track to graduate with honors," said Principal Rudy Falana. "She also wanted to pursue the medical field, so it's a tragic loss, and the prayers go out the family."

"Just started crying in my bed," Cheryl's friend Kay Carey said of her reaction when she heard the news.

Kay says Cheryl had a positive spirit and always carried a smile, and that's one of the things Cheryl's friends will miss most about her.

"She was probably the nicest girl," Kay said. "She didn't have any problems with anybody. She wanted everybody to be happy."

The investigation is still ongoing, and investigators are looking into all of the factors that may have caused the accident.

"It is a tragic issue," said SFC Jason Johnson of the Georgia State Patrol. "McDuffie being a small community is touched by everybody from the high school to the hospital. It's a tragedy that's unfolded here."

The Georgia State Patrol is still looking into what happened during this morning's accident. They say they believe that Helmly failed to yield the right of way when she was hit by the driver of the pickup truck. They are however looking into whether the sun may have obstructed her view.

The driver of the truck, 80-year-old Claude Whitaker, is doing okay tonight.


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