3rd Update: The funeral for Ellen Nettles will be held at 1 p.m. Dec. 21 at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 435 Peachtree St. NE Atlanta.
2nd Update: The funeral for Madison Lewis was held at 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12, at Decatur First United Methodist Church at 300 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. Visitation was 2-5 p.m. Sunday at A.S. Turner and Sons Funeral Home at 2773 North Decatur Road, Decatur.
Update: The U.S./Virgin Island Police Department has issued a press release.
Students at grieved Friday after learning that Madison Lewis and Ellen Nettles, two former students who'd played on the softball team together, died Thursday in separate incidents.
Ms. Lewis, 19, a 2010 grad of Decatur High, was killed early Thursday morning when a 1995 Chevy Trailblazer carrying seven people ran off the road and struck a tree in Chambers County, Alabama, according to www.al.com.
Ms. Nettles drowned in St. Croix in the Caribbean, Decatur High principal Lauri McKain said Friday morning. Ms. Nettles attended Decatur High but graduated in 2011 from a high school in Savannah, McKain said.
A press release issued by the U.S./Virgin Island Police Department said the drowning happened as a group of friends swam in the tide pool at Annaly Bay.
"According to the initial police report friends of the victim said they were swimming and the water began to get rough. One of the friends’ asked the victim if she wanted to get out of the water. When the victim started to move out of the water she was pulled under water by the current. Her body surfaced about five minutes later about 30 feet away from where she was last seen.
"The VIPD marine unit boat recovered the victim in the water. She was transported by boat to the Frederiksted pier where she was taken by ambulance to the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center where she was pronounced dead by medical staff."
McKain said Ms. Nettles was in St. Croix on “gap year” activities. The tragedy is compounded by the April 2009 death of Nettles’ mother, Barbara Gaby Nettles, of cancer.
Ms. Lewis played played third base on the Southern Union Community College softball team in Alabama. Two other school athletes were injured in the wreck on State Road 77, according to www.al.com..
The driver was charged and authorities said it appeared alcohol was a factor, according to the website.
Decatur High athletic director Carter Wilson said the news came as a one-two punch, with information about Ms. Lewis coming first on Thursday, then the news about Ms. Nettles.
"This is a close community and it hit hard," Wilson said. "This is tough for all of us."
Wilson said coaches cut short or called off practices on Thursday because students were upset.
"We'll be doing everything we can for these students," he said. "Athletics can seem like the most important thing in the world but something like this makes you realize it's not the most important thing."
McKain said the Decatur High softball coach called the team together and gave them the news. Later the players went visited the Lewis home as a group.
McKain said she made an announcement about the deaths at the start of school Friday. Grief counselors have been made available for students.
“Teenagers tend to grieve socially,” she said. “They don’t want to be alone.”