Accident Claims The Lives Of Two Teens

For the second time in less than a month, a traffic tragedy has devastated Pearl River County. 17-year-old Jonathan Johnson and 16-year-old Dinh Nguyen died Tuesday afternoon on their way home from Poplarville High School.

The boys were on Oak Hill Ford's Creek Road about two miles from Highway 26. Their deaths come just a few weeks after a young college student died on her way home.

The ten and 11th graders were friends and sat next to each other in Miss Wheat's second period English class.

"Their books are still sitting on their desk. I didn't have the heart to move it," English Teacher Candace Wheat said.

Miss Wheat says both boys were well liked and well behaved. Jonathan was quiet and laid back. Dinh was the practical joker.

"He was a jokester, but he did it in an appropriate way and at appropriate times. He had the kind of sense of humor that kind of caught you off guard," Wheat said.

Their deaths have caught everyone in this community off guard. The teens were driving home from Poplarville High Tuesday afternoon when authorities say Johnathon lost control and crashed into several trees.

"It was raining. There's a possibility that weather might have been a factor, possibly slick roads. Very tragic, very hard when you have to notify families. In this particular case, the father of the driver is also one of the members of the local fire departments. He actually went to the scene as a first responder and didn't realize his son was involved," Arron Russell said.

School leaders brought in grief counselors to help teachers and students cope with the tragic loss. About a dozen students were consoled by the counselors.

"When you lose children like this, it's very tragic. It's very sad right now. We're concentrating on trying to get our students through this very difficult time," Principal Carl Merritt Poplarville High said.

Getting through this day was difficult for Miss Wheat's English class.

"Today in second period, we kind of had a big group hug and cried a little bit."

Teachers and students observed a moment of silence for the teens Wednesday morning, and will do the same at Friday night's homecoming football game. The principal says Grief counselors will remain at the school as long as needed.

by Al Showers