Students usually post banners cheering on the Red Raiders in the Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School gymnasium. On Wednesday, the banners read, “Rest easy Kayleigh” and “In loving memory of Hannah Furtick.”
Kayleigh Parker, 17, and Hannah Furtick, 18, were students at the school.
The best friends were killed in a vehicle collision just after 3 a.m. Sunday in Bamberg County.
On Wednesday afternoon, friends and family filled the high school’s gymnasium to remember the teens.
“No words can bring back these two babies, but I do believe God has a blessing,” said the Rev. Brian Gray, pastor of Open Door Baptist Church.
Classmate Lauren Kinsey remembered Parker and Furtick and the fun times they shared.
Kinsey said she would frequently travel to Orangeburg with the pair to go to Walmart and eat at Chick-fil-A, a favorite restaurant.
On a particular outing to Orangeburg, the teens pulled up to Chick-fil-A, noticed an empty parking lot and had a laugh.
They visited the restaurant on a Sunday – forgetting that Chick-fil-A is never open on Sundays.
“My words can’t fill y’all’s hearts,” Kinsey said.
Kamya Frazier also remembered her classmates.
“We used to always go to Walmart and put on clown masks,” she said.
“I miss my girl,” she added.
Gray said, “I got a phone call Sunday morning about this awful tragedy.”
“I was taken aback by it. I didn’t understand everything,” he said.
Gray said he visited with the teens’ family members.
“I saw brokenness,” he said.
He told the grieving families and friends, “The question of 'why' is going to come and you may not get the answer on this side of eternity.”
The sniffles of mourners could be heard throughout the full gymnasium.
“Nothing good happens after 12 o’clock,” Gray said.
Gray said he spoke with the teens’ mothers and they told him similar sentiments.
“Teenagers, get your rear ends home and listen to your mamas and daddies,” he said.
Both teens spent part of Saturday shopping for prom dresses in Walterboro.
Parker found a dress she liked and tried it on. She took a photo of herself in the dress she looked forward to buying.
That photo was in a frame under a heart-shaped display of purple and white flowers near her casket.
“Today’s a hard day for this family and this community,” Gray said
“You and I have a responsibility to these families. Do you have that relationship with the Lord that is so genuine and complete that you can walk without fear like David did?” Gray said.
The Rev. Charlie Lucas, pastor of First Baptist Church of Bamberg, said, “There are no words that we can speak that are powerful enough to take away your pain.”
“God is never absent in our suffering,” Lucas said, reminding the crowd of the passage, “Jesus was a man of sorrow.”
“He is here to speak to your heart,” Lucas said.
“No one here today would’ve thought a week ago we would be here like this today,” he said.
Both pastors told the crowd about spiritual salvation by faith and surrender to Jesus Christ.
“He is here to speak peace to your heart,” Lucas said.
Furtick’s mother, Stephanie Jones, told The T&D prior to the service that she was grateful for the news coverage if it meant saving the life of another teen or the heartache of another mother.
Before pallbearers wheeled both caskets out of the gymnasium, Warren Pea and Stevie Van Faussien led the crowd in singing “Amazing Grace”:
"The Lord has promised good to me,
"His word my hope secures
"He will my shield and portion be,
"As long as life endures."