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Rock Bridge student killed, six others hurt after south Columbia crash


One high school student was killed after a crash late Friday night in south Columbia.

Columbia Police Department said in a release that four vehicles were involved. Officers responded to the area of West Nifong Boulevard and Bethel Street around 11 p.m. for a report of a crash. A release said one juvenile was killed, another had life-threatening injuries and three more kids were injured in the crash.

Sunday, Rock Bridge High School principal Jacob Sirna released an email with Columbia Public Schools confirming that freshman Evan Avery passed in the accident.

"There were other CPS students involved in this accident, as well," Sinra wrote. "We ask that you keep Evan's, and all the families, in your thoughts and prayers as they navigate this incredibly difficult path forward."

A vigil held in honor of the Rock Bridge student was held on the football field at 7 p.m. Saturday night. Earlier, Rock Bridge High School Football Coach Matt Perkins, shared information about the memorial in a tweet.

"After a terrible car accident last night, we are sad to sharer that Evan Avery has passed away,” the post reads. “While this news is devastating, there is comfort being together through times like this… in our hearts forever #6.”

About a hundred students and community members gathered on the Rock Bridge football field in honor of Avery. Avery, also on the school's football team, played with a number six jersey. That same jersey was on display during the vigil and visitors were invited to sign a message.

"We're going to say one more prayer," the speaker said during the vigil. "Feel free to stay as long as you need."

At the end of the vigil, green and gold balloons were released to honor Avery's memory.

After investigating Friday, Columbia Police Department's Traffic Unit determined a 2011 Toyota RAV4 that had five kids inside was traveling east on West Nifong Boulevard when it drove through a red light. Officers said the RAV4 then struck the passenger side of a 2009 Toyota Corolla also driven by another juvenile.

The RAV4 then began to roll and struck a third vehicle while the Corolla hit a fourth vehicle. Columbia Police said after impact at least one person in the RAV4 was ejected from the vehicle.

One juvenile had life-threatening injuries, while another had serious injuries. Three other juveniles and a woman had moderate injuries and one man was not hurt. None of the occupants in the RAV4 were wearing their seatbelts when the crash happened, Columbia Police said in a press release.

“We want to help anybody that needs to talk during this process,” Jen Wheeler, the co-founder of Bigtree Medical and Little Tree Pediatrics and Pediatric Urgent Care said. “There's a heaviness that comes with that news and as parents we share in that heaviness.”

The center announced today that they’re offering free counseling services to those affected by Friday’s tragedy. That includes any students at Rock Bridge too.

Wheeler is also a mother of two at the high school.

“Rock Bridge High School students have gone through a lot in the last couple of years,” Wheeler added. “I'm worried because it's like layer upon layer of tragedy, and these kids, it's happening to their friends.”

Those interested in the services can find more information on the center’s Facebook page or website.

Michelle Baumstark, the Chief Communications Officer of Columbia Public Schools added that counseling services will also be available through the schools. Counselors will be available for any staff or students needing support.

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Erika McGuire

Erika McGuire originally comes from Detriot. She is a reporter and weekend anchor on ABC 17 News.


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