ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - Grief counselors spent Monday at St. Martin High School helping students and teachers cope with the tragic death of a 17-year old junior. Raelyn Harris died Sunday morning at a hospital in Jackson. She will be laid to rest Tuesday and many students plan to attend her funeral.
"She was just beautiful and I told her that when she first came to school. She loved everybody," said Austin Cannette.
Friends will remember Raelyn Grayce Harris for her stunning good looks. But they said it was Raelyn's infectious smile and bubbly spirit that they will miss the most.
"She was the life of everybody around campus. She made everybody just happy. She was very energetic and it was fun hanging out with her," said Austin.
Austin and Rebecca Anderson were among her closest friends. Rebecca was looking forward to playing with Raelyn on the softball team at St. Martin High School this year.
"She was more like a sister. We always hung out together," said Rebecca. "She was always cheering somebody up if they were upset. And she was never upset herself. She never showed her feelings."
Those memories came flooding back Sunday morning, when they learned that their dear friend had passed away. Raelyn had been fighting for her life since November 22, the day after Thanksgiving break started. She was critically injured in a one-car crash on Wire Road near Vancleave.
"I cried hard for a few hours, and then I was like, I got to stop, because I know Raelyn would have wanted me to keep moving," said Rebecca.
Raelyn's death made it an especially difficult day, as students returned to school from the week-long holiday.
"I really thought she was going to come back. I really did," said Austin.
"I don't have words to explain how I felt. It was just devastating," said Anita Weems.
Weems was Raelyn's art teacher. She said two days before the tragic car crash, Raelyn came into her classroom and asked if she could paint a picture. It was a picture of a dream catcher.
"She had started working on it and this is how she left it. So I'm looking forward to giving it to her mom and her family," said Weems.
The unfinished piece of art was a reminder of the life of a beautiful young lady who was taken away too soon.
"For me, it's a symbol of her life. She was working. She was doing her best work, and her life ended and that's the sad part," said Weems.
"Definitely sad, but St. Martin comes and pulls everything together. We're one huge family. We help each other out, and I know Raelyn would have wanted us to be OK and keep moving forward," said Rebecca.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Department said the driver of the car, 23-year old Steven Jordan of Alabama, died at the scene. The accident is still under investigation.
Visitation for Raelyn Harris is on Tuesday from 1:00-3:00 PM at Heritage Funeral Home. The service starts at 3:00 PM. Raelyn will be buried at Big Point Cemetery in east Jackson County.