"Their immediate families are hurting – and now the Black Hawk family is hurting."
The words of troubled Blackhawk High School principal Jerry Mortimer come in the wake of a tragic crash which claimed the lives of three students Friday night.
"They're wonderful kids. They're absolutely marvelous kids. They're the kind of kid that every high school loves to have."
According to Green County Sheriff Randy Roderick, just before nine o'clock Friday night, 16–year–old Carrie Herbst was driving her 1999 Mercury Cougar on Melvin Road, about a half–mile west of State Highway 69, in Clarno Township.
"While traveling westbound at highway speed the driver lost control and struck a steel bridge railing and which resulted in a one vehicle crash."
Herbst, and two passengers, 15–year–old Lisa McDonald, of Gratiot, and 16–year–old Daniel Perger, of rural Monroe, were reported dead at the scene.
Meanwhile, a third passenger, 15– year–old Samantha Gille, of South Wayne, was transported to U–W Hospital, via Medflight.
Mortimer continues, "It's devastating, it really is. We're a small community and like I said, we're a family."
Meanwhile…Sheriff Roderick cites speed as a factor in the crash.
He also explains Herbst just received her license in January, adding the crash sends a spotlight to the state's Graduated Driver's License restrictions.
"The driver of this vehicle had a restriction where she was to have one other occupant of the vehicle at that time of night."
Mortimer adds, "I'm sure the school will be discussing it and we'll be discussing it with them and, like I said, our driver's ed teacher is an excellent educator. And I know he's hurting today, because he teaches these kids."
And—as the community's concerns regarding Gille's condition continue…Mortimer says its members will persevere.
"We're gonna put our arms around everybody, the whole community is, and we're gonna fight through this."
Mortimer says the community continues pulling for Gille—who lost an arm in the crash.
He adds he expects a memorial to be created in the student's honor.