Hawkins County

Community vigil remembers students after their tragic deaths

HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. - Underneath the overcast and gloom a community managed to find hope through their prayers.

They looked to God for the strength to carry on after a series of tragedies took the lives of 5 students who attended Volunteer Comprehensive High School in Church Hill.

One died from an illness and four others were killed in three separate car accidents.

The names of the students were read the Monday night vigil: Jimmy Cradic, Locata Allison, Billy Nauert, Destiny Stapleton, and Payton Flanary.

Payton Flanary's father Jackie organized in the vigil to help his community heal.

"We are just trying to win everybody that we can, that God knows what he's doing. And that he's gonna help, God knows what's going on in this community," said Jackie Flanary.

And together they prayed and marched step by step around the school.

Jackie Flanary tells News 5 his son Payton was killed in a car accident about three weeks before Christmas.

Rachelle Housewright was one Payton's closest friends; she described the last conversation they had.

"He told me that God had a plan for us, we we're talking about how something good was going to happen. It's changed all of Volunteer [High School]. It's quiet in the halls, now people have come together a lot," Rachelle Housewright.

And now the community hopes the worst is over and pray that good is on the way.

Vigil also remembered a teacher in the school system that recently died from a medical condition.

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