'Everybody loved them': Shattered parents remember Chattooga teen footballers who died in car crash
CHATTOOGA COUNTY, GEORGIA: Four people including three Chattooga High School student-athletes died in a fiery crash on Sunday, October 30 when their vehicle lost control and rolled off a highway in Chattooga County. The deaths have sent a shockwave through the close-knit town and left the community devastated.
The Georgia State Patrol says a 2019 Audi RS5 was moving west on Ga Highway 114 at around 12.36 am when it veered off the road, onto the shoulder, and into a driveway. The authorities said the vehicle started to flip uncontrollably and ended up upright. According to the officials, the driver of the car, identified as 54-year-old Otis Kennard Jr, died in the crash along with 14-year-old Tydraevius Dozier, 15-year-old Xavier Gray, and 16-year-old Zantivian Brown. A girl who was also present in the car is currently fighting for her life at a nearby hospital.
The death of the youngsters has left the community heartbroken. Their families say their smiles and personalities filled the room. "Unexplainable. Unbelievable,” said Desirae Rogers, Dozier's mom and Brown's stepmom. “My babies. They were amazing, outgoing, outspoken, everybody loved them.” She also told Fox5 that they lived right around the corner from the horrific crash scene. "We actually pulled up on the accident," Rogers said. "They were less than a minute from home."
Brown's biological mother, Markita Brown, said her son filled the world with joy. "He was loved by many," Brown said. "Not just in Chattooga, but also in Cartersville. He was loved by so many." She said her son recently moved to Chattooga to live with his father. Dylan Chaney, the brothers' father, told Local3News, "If you got them, you better hold them. You better go in there and hold them right now. It’ll only take a few minutes.”
The three teens were the star players of their high school football team and were known for their great attitudes on and off the field. "When you spend that time together, you create a bond with those guys," said Shawn Peek, the school's football coach. "A lot of these little kids look up to these guys and want to be them when they get big. It creates a void.”
"Heartbroken is the only word that comes to mind as we have lost 3 of our own. And now, the community is vowing to support the victims’ families and they have advice for them," a post from the high school's football page said.
The community held a prayer vigil on the football field at 7 pm on Monday night to honor the lives of the teens. The Georgia state patrol has launched an investigation into the matter and is looking into the cause of the crash.