Community Mourns Deaths Of Children - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/09/05

Community Mourns Deaths Of Children

They played together as friends and attended school in the same fifth grade classroom. Now, the East Central community is dealing with the deaths of two 11-year-old boys.

Dustin Walls and Joshua Sayre were killed when their four wheeler was struck by a pick up truck on a rural road just north of Hurley Sunday morning.

Investigators say the boys ran through a stop sign and into the path of the oncoming truck.

Friends of the victims are still shaking their heads in disbelief. The principal of East Central Upper Elementary calls it a "tragedy all the way around".

Lengthy skid marks end in a roadside ditch, where chunks of dirt have been scraped away. Tire tracks and scattered orange paint marks are the only obvious clues that an accident happened there.

Zachary Jones, 11, visited the crash site as more than a curious observer.

"We was good friends. Really good friends," he said.

Jones not only knew Dustin Walls, he'd ridden with his friend on Dustin's four wheeler. Just a week ago, the two of them were riding the same roads.

"We rode it down these roads before. And I'm very blessed I wasn't on that four wheeler.  They've been riding them for a long time. And it was very fun. But it's very sad," said Jones.

The two boys attended school at East Central Upper Elementary and were in the same fifth grade class. Shortly after learning of the accident, school officials organized a support network of counselors and area ministers.

"Just be here as a friend, and as a person for them to talk to. To let some of their emotions out, their tears and just heart sickness over this," said minister Ed Deabler, who helped counsel the children.

"They were precious children. I knew them well," said principal Lynn Brewer.

She says each of the boys will be remembered in special ways.

"Joshua was more quiet, but very active in school, a very good student. Dustin has the most beautiful eyes you would ever see. He had a great personality," she said.

The principal admits answers don't come easy right now. She and others can only offer comfort and support to fellow students like Zach Jones.

"I did tell them that we believed in a big God who could take care of us and hold us close and give us that strength to get through this. And I encouraged them to pray for and think about the families," said Principal Brewer.

Investigators say the two boys were wearing helmets. But the youngsters were both thrown from the four wheeler. The teenage driver of the truck, which hit the ATV, suffered minor injuries.

By Steve Phillips

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