June 8, 2011
The last day of school is usually cause for celebration, however Nelson County High School was rocked by tragedy just one day before the start of summer vacation.
Students were informed Wednesday of the death of 14-year-old freshman Kirstin Ellis, who died Tuesday night in a single car crash on Route 6 (River Road) at the Duncan Hollow Loop about 1.5 miles west of Route 634 (Adial Road).
A broken speed limit sign and car pieces are all that remains at the scene.
"As you can imagine, it's a very challenging day for the Nelson County Public School Division family. Upon notice of this accident we enacted our crisis management team, which brought in extra counselors for students and facility," said Superintendent Dr. Roger Collins.
Police say a 1992 Toyota Camry traveling west on Route 6 at approximately 3:40pm Tuesday veered off of the right side of the road, hit a sign and a tree, and then rolled down an embankment before flipping over.
Ellis was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.
Her 16-year-old male relative was driving and reportedly lost control when he fell asleep at the wheel, according to Virginia State Police reports. He suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene.
The small, rural community is left to cope with the death of a young girl described as a shining star by everyone who knew her.
"Kirstin was an 'A' student who participated in a variety of after school events and was well thought of by all of her classmates," remarked Dr. Collins.
Seniors preparing for graduation on Saturday are having a hard time celebrating the academic milestone.
"I'm about to go to the beach. I'm about to graduate. I'm about to have a party. But at the same time, someone is mourning right now. If I can help them, I'd really love to," said senior Corey Lawson.
Police say both Ellis and her driver were wearing seatbelts. A preliminary investigation indicates speed and alcohol were not factors in the crash.
The driver has not been charged as of yet, however the crash remains under investigation.