ATLANTA — University of Georgia students and employees are devastated at the loss of four female students killed in a horrific, high-speed car crash that left another student critically injured, the school's president said at a somber Thursday briefing.
The wreck happened when two cars, one northbound and the other southbound, collided around 9 p.m. Wednesday on Georgia State Route 15 south of the Athens campus, Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry said.
All five students were in a Toyota Camry heading north when it veered into the southbound lane, the Georgia State Patrol said in a preliminary report. A Chevrolet Cobalt heading the opposite direction struck the Camry in the passenger side. It wasn't known why the Camry drifted into the other lane, the patrol said.
The students killed, all from the Atlanta suburbs, were Kayla Canedo, 19, of Alpharetta; Brittany Feldman, 20, of Alpharetta; Christina Semeria, 19, of Milton; and Halle Scott, 19, of Dunwoody, the State Patrol said.
The driver of the Camry — fellow student Agnes Kim, 21, of Snellville, Georgia, another Atlanta suburb — remained hospitalized late Thursday morning.
The Cobalt driver, Abby Short, 27, of Demorest, Georgia, was taken to a hospital but her condition wasn't available, authorities said.
The State Patrol said troopers don't suspect that alcohol played a role in the crash.
"The loss of any student is very difficult and a tragedy of this magnitude is truly devastating," University of Georgia President Jere Morehead said. "During this time of tremendous sadness, let us draw together as a UGA family and care for each other."
A gathering was planned Thursday evening on the Athens campus to reflect on the lives of the students, Morehead said. A candlelight vigil was also planned Thursday night at the Lodge of Athens, a student apartment complex.
Around the state, flags will be lowered to half-staff on state properties until sunset on Friday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal ordered.
Morehead said he doesn't recall such a tragic event in his three decades at the university, where he was a professor and administrator before being named president in 2013.
"This is something that the university hasn't faced before," he said, adding that "we will face it, we will provide support for each other."
The students who died were active in campus activities such as the Greek system and religious organizations, Morehead said.
Friends, sorority sisters and relatives of the victims were gathered at the Athens hospital overnight, Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry said in a statement. The university president was also there, talking to family members who arrived during the night.
"I told them that I cannot imagine how any of them are facing this kind of tragedy and loss, and that our university stands ready to assist them in any way, to support them in any way and we want them to know that they are not alone," Morehead said.