LAKE CITY, Fla. -- A Lake City community is mourning the loss of a high school student killed in a car accident Monday night. Six other students were injured and on the week of its homecoming festivities, Columbia County High School is pausing the celebrations and remembering one of its own.
"She sat either beside me or in front of me and it was just heartbreaking not seeing her there. She's there every single day. She never missed class," said Nikole Bryant.
Bryant is a senior at Columbia High School and she says Tuesday was one of the toughest days she's ever had in school.
"It was just very sad. Everybody was crying and it was just heart-crushing," said Bryant.
Students describe Czarrah Howard, 17, as a quiet girl with long beautiful hair. They say she always had a smile on her face. Principal Todd Widergren says Czarrah was a great student who had taken Advanced Placement courses.
"She hadn't 100 percent decided what she wanted to do next year but she was looking at all possible avenues and very excited about what the future had to offer," said Widergren.
Widergren says Czarrah's parents were very involved in her life. He says Czarrah has a younger sister who attends Columbia High as a sophomore and a little brother. He says both the school and the community have been hit hard by this tragedy.
"It's a very tight knit community, very tight knit school; we pride ourselves on taking care of each other so when you lose one of your own even though we've got 1800 students we're still a big family. So when you lose one of your own it's hard," said Widengren.
When the news got out on social media students began posting 'Rest in Peace Czarrah' and posting pictures. In a matter of hours they organized a prayer service at the school.
"We came out of the faculty meeting and the students were set up on their own. It was very impressive as a member of this community to see the students take something on their own to look out for each other and hold a prayer service for each other," said Widergren.
Police say six other students were injured. One student was life-flighted to Shands Gainesville, another was transported there after medical staff discovered he had a broken neck.
Three others were taken to local hospitals.
Students say they are planning a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Lake DeSoto.
First Coast News