Two small towns are in mourning. Forreston and Leaf River each lost young community members over just a few days. A 19-year old Leaf River Firefighter died in a house fire on Friday. Early Monday morning there was a rollover crash that killed 16 year-old Drew Crase.
There was an overall sadness in the tight-knit community, especially at the local high school, where both young men attended. Wood had just graduated and Crase was a junior. Forreston High School Senior Student Candice Whitatre says she is emotional that she lost not one, but two friends.
A sign reads “Forreston Strong” hangs on a light post in Forreston. The painted words show support for a village that lost two of its own, too soon. Leaf River Volunteer Firefighter, Gregory Wood, 19, died in a house fire on Friday. Drew Crase,16, was killed in a car accident on Route 73, early Monday morning. Officials responded to the scene shortly before one in the morning. Carroll County Sheriff’s Office says Crase’s car ran into a ditch, then went airborne and landed on its roof in a pond. Crase was pronounced dead at the scene.
Forreston Senior Candice Whitatre says she’s struggling to get through all the recent loss.
“I’m just trying to get over the fact that my friend Greg passed away,” said Whitatre. “Then I found out that Drew passed away. I didn’t believe it at first, but then I [saw] everyone in tears at school. It was just terrible. I felt terrible.”
There was a vigil held on Sunday night for Wood. Monday morning, many posted memories on Facebook after news circulated of Crase’s death. One Facebook post was a Forreston Strong photo with the caption asking for prayers after the two fatalities in a span of just three days.
Whitatre also shared her fond memories of both Wood and Crase.
“Every time he walked into the room he brought smiles to everybody,” said Whitatre. “[I] never had a problem with him at all. He was pretty goofy. He made everybody laugh.”
She also mentioned, that she will never get used to an empty seat in the classroom and an absence from the community.
“He’s not going to be there to play his favorite sport, which was basketball,” said Whitatre. “He’s never going get a chance to graduate or college and experience actual life.”
Forreston Seniors were able to leave school on Monday with parental permission.