Lakewood students pause to mourn fallen classmate

- A vigil for a Lakewood High School senior who was killed in a car accident earlier this week will be held this weekend, the school's principal said Thursday.

Principal Erin Savage has been trying to find the right ways and times to remember 18-year-old Bryson Welton-Williams, who was driving a new Toyota Corolla on Tuesday when it crashed into a tree across from the school. Bryson was killed.

Two 18-year-old friends, Joshua Heath and Ramcharan "Trey" Lattimore, were also in the car, which had been given to Trey as a graduation present, and survived.

"We're moving forward, but the air is a little bit solemn," said Savage, who is trying to help the senior class balance their sadness with their excitement about prom and graduation. "They're ready to graduate. So I'm trying to keep in mind that I'm trying to stay happy for those seniors, but I got to also be mindful that some may be having a difficult time."

Principal Savage decided Sunday was the best day for a vigil because most of the remaining school days have other events planned for the senior class.

"We wanted to not affect those kids who are still celebrating, who are able to celebrate. But let Bryson have a day of his own," the principal said.

On Thursday, classmates gathered for the senior picnic, which is an annual tradition aimed at allowing students a time to celebrate.

Seniors say it was hard not to have their missing classmates on their minds.

"We're all kind of in such shock and disbelief. This is our friend. We're so used to seeing him," said Tynia Tillman, one of Bryson's friends, adding events like the picnic help her and her friends cope. "It's kind of getting them back in the mood, like, 'Let's celebrate his life that he did live.’" 

Rolando Sims, the senior class president, echoed Tynia's sentiments.

"It just brings positive vibes to the students. They're having fun. They have smiles on their face and they're just enjoying the moment while it lasts," he said.

The vigil for Bryson is at 7 p.m. on Sunday at Lakewood High School.

Joshua Heath, who was taken to the hospital in critical condition, underwent surgery Thursday and is improving, the principal said. Trey Lattimore, meanwhile, has been recovering at home.

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