Pine Belt High school students involved in fatal car accidents over four month span

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - From September to December there has been at least four fatal accidents involving students who attend a high school in the Pine Belt.

In September, 17-year-old Presbyterian Christian School student Ryan McLeod was driving a pickup truck on Interstate 59 South when he drove off the road into the median. McLeod died from internal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

In November, 17-year-old Sacred Heart student Quintus Thomson was killed when his 2012 Honda Accord left the roadway and struck a bridge pillar in the median.

In December, 16-year-old West Jones High School student Joseph Grayson was involved in a one-vehicle rollover accident and did not survive his injuries.

Three days later from his fatal accident, 16-year-old Prentiss Christian School student Kaylan Ainsworth was also involved in a car crash on Highway 84 and later died from her injuries.

"With a lot of our kids driving and being as busy as they are with their schedules it is a reality that we have to be prepared in our schools to deal with crisis and different things that our kids are faced out in the real world," said West Jones High School 11th and 12th grade counselor Sabrina Mauldin. 

While many families are affected by their loss, so are the students who attend the same high school. Recently West Jones High School lost one of their own.

"The class was just so shook that we just, we just had to shut class down that day and that was okay," said Mauldin. "We allowed those kids to get into small groups and they were able to help one another just by being in their small groups and being able to hug one another and to comfort one another."

It's times like these that school counselors step in to help.

"That's our whole purpose of being on this campus is to be there for our students and to help them in this time of crisis you know so that they can deal with their loss," said Mauldin.

Although each student is impacted differently, the teachers and counselors try to help their students feel better.

"Yes it's going to hurt a month, it's going to hurt you know on birthdays and special occasions, but you're going to always be able, you know, to look back and have those special memories and to try and build and find your strength from those good memories that you have," said Mauldin. 

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