Staunton River HS Students Gather for Vigil in Honor of Crash Victims

Bedford Co., VA - Hundreds of Staunton River High School students gathered before class Friday morning to remember two classmates killed in a car accident Wednesday.

The vigil was held around the flag pole in front of the school, and it grew larger and larger as each school bus arrived.

Students and teachers shared memories of Jacob Baird, 17, and Katie Thurston, 16.

It's just the kind of event that their classmates say Jacob and Katie would have wanted to be a part of.

"She was always there for me. One day I was feeling really down because somebody in my family had passed and she was there. She was there for me," said Taylor Tester.

"He was so concerned more or less with how you were doing than how he was. So caring and considerate," said Logan Merrill.

Students and teachers shared those memories for about 30 minutes before the bell rang. They say the halls inside are full between classes yet somehow feel empty.

"This is a school that's pretty upbeat about everything. Walking down the hallways people are joking, laughing. Not the past couple days. You walk down the hallway, people are silent."

"It only having been two days I still find myself walking down the hallway looking for him in the crowd," said Merrill.

Sadly, they won't see Jacob or Katie in a crowd like this again. But classmates are determined to make their memories live on.

"We'll never forget Jacob. He'll be right there with us when we graduate. In memory. We'll never forget him. I'm sure for the same thing for Katie," said Merrill.

Funeral arrangements have been made for both students.

Baird's family will receive visitors Saturday from 5 p.m. -7 p.m. at Lotz Funeral Home in Vinton. His funeral is at 2 p.m. Monday in the funeral home chapel.

Thurston's visitation is from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. Tuesday night at the Lotz Funeral Home Roanoke location. Her funeral is set for Sunday, November 25 at 2 p.m. at the funeral home.