The Ashville community is mourning the death of a high school senior killed in a wreck with a school bus on Friday morning.
St. Clair County Coroner Dennis Russell identified the victim as Ashley Cartier, 17, a student at Ashville High School. Cartier was also a member of the dance team. Her uniform was tucked into the truck of her car in preparation for Ashville's first football game of the season.
The crash happened at 6:54 a.m. at mile marker 8 on Highway 23, an area between Springville and Ashville, according to Ashville Police Chief Dennis Matthews.
The school bus had stopped to pick up the first rider when Cartier's car crashed into the back of the bus and went underneath. She was driving a 2001 Kia Sophia. Police say Cartier died at the scene.
At this time, authorities say there is no evidence that Ashley was texting or talking on the phone.
The school bus driver and other student were not injured. Police officers and a representative from the St. Clair County Coroner's Office went to Cartier's home to notify her parents.
Ashville's principal, Patti Johnson, said Ashley was an outstanding student. She said Ashley's death is tragic for the entire community.
"I guess when I think about Ashley, I think of her laugh. Very sweet young lady. A friend to everyone. She was full of life," Johnson said.
"In a small school this size, it's a huge loss. We all know each other. All the kids know each other. Everyone knows Ashley," the principal added.
Several students checked out of school after hearing the news. Those who stayed behind met with grief counselors, many of them writing messages to Ashley to help express their grief.
Assistant principal Jeff Hardy said the pep rally for tonight's game was cancelled, but the football game against Springville High School is still on. The school will hold a moment of silence and a balloon release in Ashley's honor.
St. Clair County School Superintendent Jenny Seals released the following statement in response to Ashley's death:
Today in St. Clair County our hearts are broken over the loss of one of our students. Our administrators, counselors, faculty and local youth pastors have combined efforts to offer support to our students. The students have been encouraged to talk to each other, write their thoughts and write letters to Ashley's family. We are here for students and the family as we continue to support them and lift them up in our prayers. Ashley was a senior at Ashville High School and a member of the dance team. She will be missed by her friends and the faculty of Ashville High School.
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