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HHS students mourn girl's death

CONYERS - The first day of school after fall break was a sad one for many at Heritage High School after word spread that a fellow classmate died over the weekend.

Heritage High School senior Mariyam Abdullah Crossley, 17, died Saturday when the car she was traveling in crashed into a tree near the intersection of Potts Road and Ebenezer Road in Conyers.

Around 3:45 p.m. Saturday, a 17-year-old male driving a 2005 Nissan Altima was traveling southbound along Ebenezer Road when he lost control of the car as he was negotiating a curve at Potts Road. The car rolled over and struck a tree on Potts Road.

Crossley, the front seat passenger, was pronounced dead at the scene. The 16-year-old passenger in the back seat was able to climb from the vehicle through the back window.

Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington said the investigation into the wreck is continuing and charges will be filed against the driver.

Fellow students held a vigil Sunday night at the accident scene, where more than 200 people, including Crossley's family members, students and their parents, educators and other community members, gathered to remember her.

The school also held a moment of silence Monday.

"Counselors were there at the start of the school day ... and we have a crisis team in place for situations like this, not only for the students and staff, but also for the family," said Cindy Ball, public information officer for Rockdale County Public Schools. "And they'll be there as long as they are needed."

Tarnisha Dent, a graduation coach at Heritage, said students are sad about the accident, but it helps many to cope when they talk to somebody about the situation.

Crossley was on the Heritage step team last school year, and this year she was selected to be on the school's Homecoming Court. Her sister is expected to walk in her place during the Homecoming celebration and football game at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 against Apalachee High School.

As of press time, funeral arrangements were not finalized, but they are expected to be held at Levett & Sons Funeral Home's South DeKalb Chapel in Decatur.