DUI victims' funerals begin - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

DUI victims' funerals begin

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September 24, 2003

Ben Hill County -- People all over South Georgia are mourning the deaths of five children in a tragic traffic crash. Six children were packed onto an ATV Saturday night when a suspected drunk driver crashed into them.

Tuesday, three of the children, including a brother and a sister, were buried.

It was a very sad day in Ben Hill County. "They were just sweet kids," said a victim's uncle, Daniel Varnedore. Thirteen year-old Kayla Varnedore was buried in a white casket covered with roses. Her brother, 11-year-old Dustin, follows behind in a casket of hunter green. "The last trip for the day," said Uncle Daniel.

They two of the five friends who died Sunday riding on a 4-wheeler. The ATV was struck by a drunk driver.

Only hours after Kayla and Dustin were buried, their friend, 13-year-old Lindsay Joiner was taken by hearse by a wall of students at West Coffee Middle School. "Death is hard to deal with anyway, but there are five involved, it's just kind of beyond our comprehension right now," said School Counselor Danita Knowles.

Many eighth graders locked arms in silent salute to their classmates. "It gives all of us a concrete way to feel that we've contributed and expressed our love to the family," said Knowles.

Ten-year-old Courtney Arsenall will be buried Thursday, along with the driver of the 4-wheeler, Meagan Nelson. Meagan’s grandfather says the kids are guilty of nothing but having a good time. It was Meagan’s 14th birthday party.

Her former babysitter, Amanda Michelle Troupe is charged with DUI and vehicular homicide.

Thirteen-year old Heather Bass was the only child on the ATV who survived.

posted at 5:40PM by dave.miller@walb.com