Hilton Head schools unite to support students in crash

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comApril 11, 2014 

  • To contribute

    To support the families of the students in the March 28 car crash on Hilton Head Island, contact Fellowship of Christian Athletes area director Paul Cifaldi at pcifaldi@fca.org.

Two weeks after a car crash killed two Hilton Head Island High School students and sent two others to the hospital, support for their families continues to grow.

Community members have organized events and fundraisers -- efforts led mostly by students, many from Hilton Head Island's private schools.

"The students are obviously still upset and concerned and frustrated, and all their emotions rolled up in one," Hilton Head High principal Amanda O'Nan said. "They need to feel like they are helping and being involved in some way, and fundraising is a way to do that."

Students at the high school and nearby Hilton Head Christian Academy have raised more than $3,000 for the families, according to Paul Cifaldi, area director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

"It has really been a grassroots effort coming out of all our students," Christian Academy headmaster Daniel Wesche said.

The local FCA chapter also contributed $1,000, bringing the total to more than $4,000, Cifaldi said. That number is expected to grow, as Hilton Head Preparatory School is raising money, and several churches and private donors are contributing.

This effort started a week after the March 28 wreck. Seniors Cory Rocha, 18, and Cesar Herrera, 17, were killed. Ramon Morales, 17, and Michelle Alvares, 16, were injured. The students were on their way to school when the car drove off Dillon Road, struck a culvert, went airborne and hit a tree.

Morales and Alvares remain at Savannah's Memorial University Medical Center; their conditions were not available Friday.

An investigation by the S.C. Highway Patrol continues and could take several weeks to complete, Senior Trooper Hannah Wimberly said.

O'Nan said the school will also have two empty chairs in honor of Rocha and Herrera during the graduation ceremony June 5.

The various student groups have several events planned throughout April and May to further support the families. For example, students will "bag for bucks" at a local grocery store, and several restaurants will have events and donate the proceeds to the cause.

The dates for the events have not been set, but will be available soon.

"To see these different schools come together like this is exciting," Cifaldi said. "It shows that even though they are individual schools and some times competitors, they can come together for one cause, and that is very powerful."

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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