Sophie Donaldson will not get the chance to walk the halls of Opp Middle School as an eighth grader and her absence is already being felt. A car accident claimed the life of the teenager and the town has united to mourn her death and remember her spirit.
During a vigil at the school Thursday night, teachers, friends and community members celebrated the teen's life and the time they had with her.
"She touched a lot of lives," said Opp Middle School Principal Aaron Hightower during the ceremony. "God received an angel."
The close-knit town is trying to heal together in the wake of the deadly car crash. Hundreds packed the front lawn at Opp Middle School, everyone wearing green in honor of Sophie. It was her favorite color.
"The City of Opp and Opp Middle School are a close knit community and in a time like this, our administrators wanted to give our student body and our community an opportunity to come and express their sympathies and really honor the life of Sophie and the impact she had on those around her," said Opp School Superintendent Michael Smithart. "Most importantly, it's an opportunity for our students and our community to come together to just share feelings and grieve together and honor the memory of a very special young lady."
School administrators say the 13-year-old was in the car with her mother and twin brother Monday when they involved in a three car crash in Coffee County. The accident left several injured. Sophie was airlifted to Children's of Alabama where she passed away from her injuries Tuesday, according to her obituary. Her mother and brother received minor injuries, school officials said.
"Sophie was a big part of our school and she was a big part of everyone's lives here," said Opp Middle School's Assistant Principal Shawn Short. "She was a loving person, great personality, always had a smile. She was one of our office assistants and part of our student body and if she sensed something was wrong, she would always pick you up and give you a smile and let you know that everything was going to be ok."
The cheerleader brought cheer to everyone around her and she is being remembered as an example to her peers.
"She had so much character that represented truly a high-spirited, Christian person and I think that's why it hurts so bad in our community to lose someone so positive," Hightower told WSFA. "We're hoping that our kids can pull from Sophie's spirit and be able to overcome this."
"She was everything you wanted a young lady to be- smart, funny, infectious smile, sweet spirit. It's a big loss, a very big loss," Smithart added.
The vigil ended with a balloon release in her memory, many of those in attendance crying and leaning on one another for support.
Alabama State Troopers continue to investigate the fatal accident.
Funeral services for Sophie Donaldson are set for Saturday at Westview Baptist Church in Opp at 3 PM. Visitation will be from 1-3 PM.
Opp Middle School is looking at having a permanent memorial to Sophie Donaldson on campus.
The sign in front of the school currently reads: "We love you and will miss you, Sophie!"
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