Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Friends of Hope McKenzie and Austin Rogers came together on Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil at Grayson High School.
VIDEO: Vigil for Hope McKenzie and Austin Rogers
Friends, family and classmates gathered outside Grayson High School to remember two teenagers who had their lives taken in a car accident.
LOGANVILLE -- Hope is still alive. Austin is, too.
Hundreds of friends and family gathered outside Grayson High School on Tuesday night to remember two teenagers who had their lives taken in a car accident over the weekend. Candles were lit, they cried, they laughed, they reminisced.
Over the span of nearly two hours, easily 100 people stepped forward to share their stories about 17-year-old Hope McKenzie, described as an eternal optimist with an enchanting smile, and 19-year-old Austin Rogers, a goofball who never let friends leave without telling them he loved them.
From a mother: "Just remember to show love to each other every day, and tell your parents that you love them."
From a sister: "She would want us to get through this together ... I know she's looking down on us and she's so happy. She's so happy now."
The duo worked at Kroger together, shared friends, were former classmates. Just after 10 p.m. Saturday, the car being driven McKenzie crossed the center line on Webb Gin House Road and struck another vehicle, then another.
McKenzie and Rogers -- both wearing seatbelts, a police spokesman said Tuesday -- were killed. Another passenger, 17-year-old McKennan Lockridge, was thrown from the car and is listed in critical condition.
At a vigil organized exclusively by students, tealights spelled out "Hope" and "Austin" outside Grayson's technology building Tuesday night. A classmate strummed an acoustic guitar as friend after friend after friend spoke to a crowd huddled in a light rain.
From a busmate: "I remember one day school was just getting me down, I didn't want to be here ... I got on the bus and saw him in the back, and just started talking to him. Right then he treated me like a friend."
From a best friend: "I loved him man, he was my brother. I know we weren't blood, but we were something."
Visitation for Hope McKenzie will be held Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Zoar United Methodist Church in Snellville. Plans for Austin Rogers were not available Tuesday.
"From our family and from Austin's family," Hope's father, Willie McKenzie, said, "I just want you to know that we love this community, and we love all of you."