Classes were cancelled Monday at Clinton College in Rock Hill after two of its students, along with two others from the York-Chester County area, died Saturday in an interstate bus crash in North Carolina.
Among those killed was an 8-year-old boy. An additional 40 people where injured in the crash, some critically.
In an interview with the Rock Hill Herald, the Rev. Maurice Harden of New Mount Olivet AME Zion Church called the crash a “terrible tragedy.” Harden also serves as campus minister at Clinton College.
“We will need your help and your assistance,” he told the Rock Hill paper. “This is a time when so many people are hurting, and what we all can do is pray for them, and also act for them in any way they need. We need the community to lift us all up through prayers.”
The bus, carrying members of the Ramah Jucco Academy football team, was traveling from Rock Hill to Fayetteville to participate in a football game against the University of God’s Chosen.
Ramah is composed of players from several schools, including Clinton. According to its website, Ramah is a two-year athletics program dedicated to offering a second chance to students who have “made mistakes academically.”
Federal investigators will be working to determine what caused the crash. Early reports indicate that a front, left tire on the bus blew out, causing it to veer into the median before striking a guardrail and sideswiping a concrete bridge column.
The bus driver, 43-year-old Brian Andre Kirkpatrick of Chester, was among those killed.
Also killed were Clinton College students Devonte Gibson, 21, of Rock Hill and Tito Hamilton, 19, of Pahokee, Fla; and Darice Lamont Hicks Jr., 8, of Rock Hill.
The Herald reported that as many as half the 47 people aboard the bus may have been Clinton students. The HBCU, founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church during the U.S. Reconstruction era, has a total enrollment of about 200.
Clinton College President Elaine Copeland said the school community was “devastated.”