The close-knit community of Harlem was struck by tragedy last week when North Harlem Elementary School student Andrew Hawkinberry was killed in an automobile accident on Interstate 20.
Andrew was with his parents and brother as the family traveled west on I-20, en route to watch Harlem High School quarterback Michael Hawkinberry lead the Bulldogs during Friday night's game at Greene County High School.
Raymond and Kelly Hawkinberry, and sons Nicholas and Andrew, never arrived - their car crossed the median into oncoming traffic and was struck by a tractor-trailer, then hit by another truck.
Michael was warming up for the game when Harlem head coach Jimmie Lewis learned about the accident.
"Everyone was driving to the game, and they were glad it was on the other side of the interstate, because they thought it wasn't any of our people," Lewis said. "One of the EMTs at the scene has a wife that works at Harlem (High), and she was at the game. He called her and told her what had happened. She told me the little fellow didn't make it."
Lewis didn't tell Michael that his 8-year-old brother had died at the scene.
"I just told him that his parents had been in a wreck and that he needed to go," Lewis said. "That football game didn't mean nothing. It's a situation that puts football and athletics as far back on the burner that you can possibly put it."
Funeral services for Andrew will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Harlem Baptist Church.
"With God's help we'll get through it. I don't know how or why - we're too weak as human beings," Lewis said. "It's tough. The funeral is Thursday, and maybe we can put it to rest. Hawk will never get over it."
Michael, a Harlem senior, had earned the starting quarterback position this season, but it is uncertain whether he will be ready to play in the Dogs' homecoming game against Warren County this Friday night.
"Whatever he decides, I'm behind him 100 percent. We'll do the best we can to be supportive of him," Lewis said. "It's his feelings that count, and nothing else. If he feels he can't play football anymore, I understand totally. Hawk makes that call."
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