Cheyenne Sauls, a 16-year-old Villa Rica High School sophomore, was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital after being thrown from a car Saturday morning when Jason Lark, 17, lost control and flipped the vehicle several times on a Douglas County road. Lark was charged Monday with first-degree vehicular homicide, DUI, failure to maintain lane, reckless driving, consumption of alcoholic beverage or possession of open container of alcoholic beverage in the passenger area, driving too fast for conditions, two counts of serious injury by vehicle, under-aged person in possession of alcohol and no drivers license on his person.
Jamie McManus, 15, was also thrown from the car. He was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. His condition was not released.
Taylor Coss of Douglasville was also injured in the accident. Coss was ejected from the SUV in the crash as well, but his injuries were not life-threatening and is home.
A fifth passenger, a 21-year-old male, fled the scene before police arrived. Police located him Monday, but did not release his name or give any further details about his role or why he fled the scene.
Lt. Paul Cosper with the Georgia State Patrol said the specialized collision reconstruction team will be working to recreate the accident and determine what happened.
According to Georgia State Patrol Sgt. J.A. Warren, in a separate incident about 2 a.m. Sunday on Berea Road near Mason Creek in Douglasville’s Bill Arp Community, 24-year-old West Georgia Technical College student Courtney Shipp of Villa Rica was killed after the driver of the 1997 BMW, 25-year-old Joshua Allen Garrison, also of Villa Rica, drove off the road, over-corrected, crossed the center line and hit a tree on the right passenger side.
Warren said Shipp was wearing a seat belt at the time of the wreck.
Garrison, who was Shipp’s boyfriend, was listed in stable condition at Atlanta Medical Center on Monday afternoon.
Warren said charges are pending.
Shipp was a phlebotomy student at West Georgia Tech.
“The West Georgia Technical College family is deeply saddened to hear of the tragic death of student Courtney Shipp,” Dawn Cook, vice president of institutional advancement, said. “We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Shipp family during this difficult time.”
Villa Rica High School students attended school for the first time Tuesday since Sauls was killed. A Facebook page started in her memory had over 2,000 members, all offering condolences to family and friends, many talking about Sauls’ laughter and kindness, as friends say goodbye.
“The ache in my heart from your absence is unbearable until I remind myself of your presence up there and that ill see you again soon. I miss you terribly,” wrote Rachel Collins on the Facebook page.
Eric Sauls, Cheyenne’s father, said several friends asked to use pictures of her on their profiles. He uploaded more images, to allow them to choose.
Because Monday was President’s Day, students did not have school. Carroll County Schools Superintendent Scott Cowart said the staff of Villa Rica High School was prepared to assist students in dealing with grief.
“We do have a plan in place, whenever something tragic happens, to provide counseling to students and any other support they may need,” he said.
“Our hearts go out to her family and the families of all the other students that were in that car.”
Funeral arrangements are still being finalized, but visitation is scheduled for Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at J. Hoyt Thomas Funeral Home Villa Rica. The funeral is set for Friday at 2 p.m. at Midway Macedonia Baptist Church. The family is in the process of establishing The Cheyenne Sauls Memorial Athletic Scholarship Fund at BB&T.
Lark, the driver of the vehicle in which Sauls was riding when the accident occurred, is no stranger to trouble in the courtroom. He had made bond last week in Magistrate Court after being charged Feb. 15 with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, possession of drug-related objects and two counts of possession of a weapon on school grounds.
According to Douglas County District Attorney David McDade, the teens had attended a bonfire Friday night at a residence in Nations Corner subdivision off Ga. Highway 5 where alcohol was allegedly consumed. The victims were all riding in a Chevrolet Blazer at about 2 a.m. when it left the road in a curve on Pleasant Drive near Bright Star Road, flipped several times and struck a parked U-Haul van.
(Times-Georgian staff writer Amanda Thomas, and Douglas County Sentinel staff writers Winston Jones and Helen McCoy contributed to this report.)