A Handley High School senior was killed and another Handley student was injured in a car accident that took place Monday night in Chambers County.
Terrance Tucker, who was scheduled to graduate from Handley just more than a month from now, died as a result of the accident, while sophomore Zehkylah Joiner was airlifted from the scene to Children’s Medical Center in Birmingham.
Tucker, who was set to graduate with an advanced diploma in May, was a starter for the Handley basketball team and a member of Rock Mills Missionary Baptist Church.
Joiner is a member of the dance line as part of Handley’s marching band.
“As a school district and community, we are deeply saddened by the death of [Terrance] and we pray for Zehkylah’s full recovery,” said Roanoke City Schools superintendent Gregory Foster in a statement Tuesday morning. “We ask for prayers for the young man’s family, the faculty, staff, and the students of Handley High School as we all grieve this tragic loss.”
News of the accident and Tucker’s death spread throughout the community Tuesday morning and grief counselors were on hand at the school to assist anyone in need of their services.
Handley coach Larry Strain, who coached Tucker as a member of the varsity basketball team the last two seasons, was with Tucker’s family Monday night immediately after the accident and was at the school Tuesday as the students found out about the tragedy.
“We’ve stayed in home room for a pretty good while this morning to honor him, to talk, for people to grieve and have the counselors here,” Strain said Tuesday. “There’s a lot of emotions for a bunch of the kids this morning.”
The Handley track and field team was scheduled to compete in a meet at Cleburne County High School Tuesday, but head coach Dustin Snyder withdrew his team from that competition out of respect for Tucker and the grieving students.
And even though Strain has seen his share of tragic loss in his time as a teacher and coach, he said words of comfort for sorrowful students are always hard to come by.
“I don’t think that there’s any words, other than ‘I love you’ that you can really say,” he said. “You just be there for them to hug on them and love them. That’s basically all you can tell them.”
Even though the grief hit hard on Tuesday morning, Tucker’s fellow seniors will also have the difficult task of navigating their final month of high school in their classmate’s absence.
“He’s a senior. He had his whole future right here in front of him,” Strain said. “And there’s going to be events during this next month, this last month of school that are going to be tough on his teammates and his classmates. I just hope Terrance realized how much he was loved and how much people cared for him because he was that kind of person to be around.”
The accident came after emotions were already raw in the wake of a mass shooting in nearby Dadeville that claimed the life of four young people, including three teenagers, one of whom was a Dadeville High School athlete.
In light of these recent events, a prayer vigil for the community was also announced Tuesday. Reverend Calvin Trammell, brother Aaron McCullough and Roanoke city council member John Frank Houston have invited the community to City Hall in Roanoke for a vigil that will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, “to join together in solidarity and unity as we pray for healing, comfort and peace,” according to the announcement.