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Driver arrested in teen's death; community mourns

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Johlonda Lindsey

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Dejon Wideman

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Location of crash

Location of crash

NORCROSS — Meadowcreek High School was marked by an unsettling silence Monday.

In the classrooms, the cafeteria and even the gym, students and staff spoke with subdued voices.

“We’re doing our best right now,” said Assistant Principal Adrienne Wiley. “It’s a hard situation.”

Wiley said the tragic death of a young girl at the school seems to be the cause of the quietness that’s overtaken the entire facility.

Johlonda Lindsey, a 16-year-old junior at the school, died in a car accident around midnight Sunday as she and three other students were headed to a party after Saturday’s prom.

The driver whose alleged racing led to Lindsey’s death left the hospital Monday, and was arrested on a vehicular homicide charge.

According to a police report released Monday, Dejon Wideman drove the Chevy Trailblazer that crashed not long after midnight Sunday.

Lindsey and another passenger were ejected onto Steve Reynolds Boulevard, after the Trailblazer reportedly swerved to avoid hitting a car in front of it. The car veered into oncoming traffic and was hit by a Ford Freestar, driven by Freddie Banks, the accident report said. According to school officials, Wideman, 19, is a sophomore at Meadowcreek and Banks is a senior there.

Two other passengers, 15-year-old Colleena Walker and 16-year-old Kendrea Walker, were also hospitalized after the crash, as was Banks. Police were unsure if they remained in the hospital Monday.

Following the late-night tragedy, about 200 students, faculty members and others from the community came to the high school for a vigil on Sunday, while others left memorials where the incident occurred at Steve Reynolds Boulevard.

The bereaved continued to visit the scene of the crash on into Monday afternoon. Norcross residents Mike Harris and wife, Trina, drove their car up onto the curb and parked beside the memorial just inches from the busy highway.

Tears rolled down Trina’s cheeks as cars sped past on the busy highway. Her husband hugged his wife as they placed a small candle at the makeshift memorial site.

“It hurts the community to see a life lost like this...so young,” said Trina, a friend of one of the victim’s families. “All you can do is just pray and hope they can get through it.”

According to media reports, Lindsey, a track athlete, did not attend prom but was on her way to an after-party when the crash occurred. Gwinnett Police spokesman Ed Ritter said they may have been heading to a nearby TGI Fridays.

The police report does not mention racing, but Ritter said reports of racing are under investigation. The report said speed does appear to be a factor in the accident, although alcohol does not.

In addition to vehicular homicide, Wideman faces charges of reckless driving, driving on the wrong side of the road, failure to maintain a lane and three counts of serious injury by motor vehicle. As of 2:30 p.m., he remained in the Gwinnett County Jail.

Grief counselors were at the school Monday.

Wiley said the grief counselors had been instrumental in helping students and staff cope with the loss.

Jorge Quintana, a spokesman with the school district, said that Gwinnett County Public Schools sent a team of 10 counselors and social workers out to the school upon learning of the tragedy. The counselors spoke to several classrooms and were on hand to console anybody who wanted to talk.

Quintana said the team of counselors planned to meet with the track team later in the day on Monday, “to make sure those students receive the support they need.”

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced. Check back at www.gwinnettdailypost.com for updates.

Comments

news2me 2 years, 3 months ago

The driver whose alleged racing led to Lindsey’s death left the hospital Monday, and was arrested on a vehicular homicide charge. According to a police report released Monday, Dejon Wideman drove the Chevy Trailblazer that crashed not long after midnight Sunday .......... According to school officials, Wideman, 19, is a sophomore at Meadowcreek

A 19 year old sophomore (10th grade)?

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OrganicGrl 2 years, 3 months ago

A 19 year old Sophomore!! If he is a sophomore based on ignorance and not medical reasons he shouldn't have a driver license in the first place. Drivers this challenged should never be allowed to get driver's license until they graduate from high school.

I wonder if her parents knew how old this person was before approving her to ride with him?

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ssilover1 2 years, 3 months ago

People---let the family and students grieve. Can't you imagine the torture the parents feel? They don't need our self righteous personalities to make it worse.

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 3 months ago

Bless your heart, I don't see you offering up condolences and sympathy. Just more holier than, thou self-rightous finger pointing with a superiority complex.

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NewsReader 2 years, 3 months ago

LOL! Yeah, what the young lady just said!

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cocobutta68 2 years, 3 months ago

My prayers go out to the family and friends of all the student involved in this tragic event. First of all I would like to make a correction. The driver Dejon is 18yrs old and a senior at Meadowcreek and I was told that he was not drag racing. The other driver Freddie is a female not a male. My daughter goes to Meadowcreek High School and went to pay her respects and to visit her friends at the hospital. My condolences go out to the family and friends of Johlonda Lindsey. I can't imagine the pain that the parents are going through. Prom night is suppose to be a wonderful night but this ended up being a parents worse nightmare.

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SickandTired 2 years, 3 months ago

I thought the same thing a 19 y/o Sophomore!!!! I have sympathy for the parents. The father said on the news we need more laws to protect kids!! That ignorant comment made me furious. Let's see his daughter broke at least two laws we know of that night. She was 16 and the Gwinnett county curfew for a 16 y/o is midnight..... The accident happened after midnight. AND she was not wearing a seatbelt. Those kids didn't go to prom yet they were going to an after party? Parents need to take responsibility for their HS children, you need to know where they're going, with whom, and know who their friends are. I always did when my kids were in HS. I didn't care when they were seniors (age 18) if they wanted to spend the night at a friends house I always called to make sure the parents were home. We parents stuck together to keep them safe because they make stupid decisions, some that are life changing.

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 3 months ago

LOOK, another holier than thou finger pointer! I think one of your relatives is a regular poster! ;)

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 3 months ago

No, you don't know this family and only signed on as an alias to another poster. Deleting comments is priceless. Bless your heart! :)

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 3 months ago

Bless your heart, your comments must have been highly inappropriate to be deleted! What is wrong with you? This about Johlanda and her grieving family. God Bless those affected by this tragic accident.

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ssilover1 2 years, 3 months ago

You are absolutely right; it is about them. And I have no idea what you are talking about deleted comments. If any were deleted, they were not mine. This is a silly dialog and I just want to say to all involved in the wreck, this is about true grief and sadness. It is a tragedy, and I wish everyone would learn fromt it: put on your seatbelt and live each day like it were your last.

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Eaglesroc_1 2 years, 3 months ago

Wow, "sickandtired", a bit brutal, wouldn't you say?? Try and control yourself at a time like this.

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Eaglesroc_1 2 years, 3 months ago

Thanks "cocobutta68" for clearing up Gwinnett Daily's poor reporting! I thought something was wrong there..I am so sad for the parents, family and friends of all concerned, people need to hold judgement towards this young lady's parents, don't you think they are going through enough? Should it have happened, no, did it, yes. We all made mistakes when we were young, unfortunately, this one cost, dearly.

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

If we're to get anything positive out of this (as in not being a complete waste) it might be that being better parents is a good lesson for all of us. I knew where mine were and what they were doing, when they were underage (I too "conspired" with other parents, and if they refused, my kid hung out elsewhere) and this would have been entirely off the table, period.

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

Just saw Johlonda's Dad on the news, lamenting that she hadn't put her seatbelt on, etc. I honor you, sir, which further reinforces my earlier point - we (the community) need to be better parents. Every weekend I see unspeakable things happening on our street across from the school, and parents appear to be oblivious to where their kids are headed (mainly either prison or early pregnancy). Just before the "no parking during school hours" signs went up, we had gang fights, stolen car rings busted, etc. and the lousy parents always seemed surprised. Every weekend we have a lovely young girl sneaking out with an obvious gangsta punk, for example, but little does she know that her parents could care less. They'll do what we teach them to do, period.

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GwinnettGirl 2 years, 3 months ago

The heartbreak Johlanda's family is suffering is devastating, and the driver will have to live with the fatal consequences of his actions forever, just as Johlanda's family will forever miss and grieve for her. However, there is no such thing as a perfect parent, nor a perfect teenager. Even though good responsible parents do their best to instill high morals and values, there can be times when a teen gets caught up in the moment, and caution & common sense are nowhere to be found. Teens just don't believe anything horrible would or could happen; they think they are invincible and that bad things happen, if at all, to others, not to them. They have no sense of reality when all of a sudden they're with a group of friends and bad choices are made. It is so unfair, so tragic that this happened at all. For this to make any difference, maybe prom goers should be made to watch a video of what can truly go wrong during prom weekend and have Johlanda's death teach others a valuable lesson. As parents we do our best, yes, we should check with the parents of those our child will be going out with, we should do all the things that will hopefully keep our kids safe, but ultimately, some things are out of our control. Good parents have kids that make mistakes, sometimes fatal ones, and some irresponsible uninvolved parents have kids who just seem to sail through life without problems. Being the parent of a teenager is unimaginably difficult; it takes alot of hope, prayers, diligence, consistency and love. We give our kids the maps and the directions, but sometimes they follow the wrong path. So sad when a teen loses a life and those left behind are left to mourn for the rest of their lives. A moment can change a life, can end a life, and teens just don't see the reality of that. How can that be changed???

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ssilover1 2 years, 3 months ago

Your comments are right on. Kids being kids is dangerous and they can break our hearts. But accidents happen. And they also happen to adults doing stupid things on the highway. Driving down I 85 every day I am reminded of how lucky I am to get home unscathed. My heart goes out to all involved.

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