On and off for the past few days, Anthony Benfield has toiled over his sermon.
Preaching from the gospel, the Foothills Community Church Habersham campus student pastor felt a mix of “overwhelmed” and “thankful” about the opportunity to speak on Kennedy Wright, 16, who died Friday in a Stephens County wreck.
“Her mom told me … I want these kids to know that they’re not promised their next breath. Life is short, and it’s fleeting,” Foothills Community Church Habersham campus pastor Mickey Carroll said.
Wright was one of three teenagers killed Friday in a wreck around 12:15 a.m. Friday on Brookhaven Circle.
Georgia State Patrol said Tristin Elizabeth Helton, 18, of Clarkesville, was driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee around a right curve “when the vehicle failed to maintain its lane and traveled across the southbound lane.”
“The vehicle then traveled off the west shoulder of the roadway, striking numerous trees,” according to state patrol.
Helton, front-seat passenger Wright and back-seat passenger Macklen-Jace Elijah Alexander, 17, of Martin, were killed in the crash. Another backseat passenger, Kainan Terrell Green, 17, of Toccoa, was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in critical condition.
Georgia State Patrol said the report was not available Monday.
Carroll said he was proud of his congregation, which has campuses in Cornelia and Toccoa, for rallying behind the teens’ families, offering help in meals, donations and prayers.
“The biggest thing is a lot of times tragedy brings people together, and it really gives people the chance to kind of show what they’re made of,” he said.
Wright attended Habersham Central High School and was “a proud big sister, enjoyed reading and loved animals, especially her cat,” according to her obituary.
She was also a dominant force as a part of the Lady Raider basketball team, Carroll and Benfield said.
“She loved people, but when she was on the basketball court, she had the attitude of, ‘That’s my ball, and you’re not going to get it from me,’” Carroll said.
Benfield described Wright as an outgoing and happy person who loved Jesus and “wasn’t afraid to tell anybody.”
One example was a challenge to bring other people to the Wednesday youth group meeting.
“She ended up bringing three carloads with her. I’m not real sure she gave these other students an option,” Benfield said.
The family will receive friends at the McGahee-Griffin & Stewart Funeral Home from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Tuesday.
Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday at Foothills Community Church in Cornelia with Carroll and Benfield officiating.