The death of Sarah Christen Renfro on Tuesday marks the continuation of a disturbing trend from 2003.
The 16-year-old Augusta Christian Schools sophomore was killed and her younger brother was injured in a single-vehicle accident about 7:20 a.m. Jan. 20.
Christen, who went by her middle name, was the first accident-related death in 2004, following a year of tragic teen losses. Seven Columbia County high-school students died in car wrecks in 2003.
Christen's classmates found out about her death from Headmaster Joel Woodcock while they were posing for club photos Tuesday morning in the school's chapel.
"It was devastating to the students ... when they heard about it," said Lynn Wilkerson, director of school activities at Augusta Christian. "She was a well-rounded student and well-liked. She was a very quiet but godly young woman."
Woodcock prayed with the students following the announcement, and several area pastors and youth ministers came to the school to counsel and pray with students, Wilkerson said.
"We immediately began praying for the family and comforting the students who were closest to her," she said.
Christen was in the school's French club, volleyball team and band.
Christen's death follows the crash deaths of seven local high-school students in 2003.
Fellow band members pasted the walls of Augusta Christian last week with fliers in her memory.
Police said Christen was driving a Ford Focus east on Cobbham Road between Ray Owens Road and Pollards Corner when she lost control of the vehicle. The car left the road and struck a tree, Columbia County Sheriff's Office Capt. Steve Morris said.
Columbia County Coroner Tommy King pronounced Christen dead at the scene. Her 7-year-old brother, William, broke his arm in the accident and was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital for treatment. He has since been released, an MCG spokeswoman said.
"He was the one that got of the car, went to the road and flagged a truck down to get some help," King said.
William is in first grade at Augusta Christian, where his uncle, Darrell Wells, is the elementary-school principal.
Funeral services for Christen were Friday at Sharon Baptist Church in Winfield. She was buried in the church's cemetery.
At the request of Christen's family, Augusta Christian will not hold a memorial service.
"We may do something down the road, but the family, who at first wanted to do something, then decided they couldn't handle it, which I totally understand," Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson has been in contact with Christen's family and said they are coping with the loss.
"They're devastated, but they're strong Christians, and the Lord will get them through this," she said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.