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.