17-year-old killed in Monday crash on Interstate 81
By Candace Sipos -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Students filed out of Sherando High School during only the second week of a new school year into a warm, bright August afternoon. Lines of buses and cars waited patiently while school officials placed evenly throughout the process stood guard.
To any onlooker, this would seem to be the routine high school departure, but the entire community knew there was one less student roaming the halls Tuesday.
Middletown resident and Sherando High School senior Donnai Laquail Diamond, 17, died in a two-vehicle crash on Interstate 81 late Monday afternoon. After the driver, another 17-year-old female, veered off to the left, came back and struck a tractor-trailer then hit the left median, the 1998 Infiniti flipped over repeatedly, according to police reports.
Diamond was pronounced dead at the scene, state police Sgt. F.L. "Les" Tyler said.
Diamond wasn't wearing a seat belt, but the driver was. The driver, whose identity is not being released because she's a minor, has already been released from Winchester Medical Center.
Tyler said police aren't sure yet whether alcohol or drugs were involved in this crash, which is still under investigation.
Although Senior Trooper K.L. Myers issued the driver a summons for reckless driving, whether she will be charged criminally is still under investigation.
Diamond is the 14th person to die in a crash on Frederick County roads this year.
Sherando High School Senior Brittni Snead, 17, stood with a group of friends after school, hugging one of them and crying.
Snead has been friends with Diamond for four years, and she said she couldn't believe Diamond wasn't going to be in school Tuesday.
"I didn't believe it at first," she said. "It was a really big shock to me."
Like others, Snead will remember Diamond's fun-loving nature and positive disposition.
"She was just a really cool person," Snead said. "She always came to school in a really good mood. If she was in a bad mood, she didn't really show it. ... She was fun to hang around with."
Connie Diamond, a Stephens City resident related to Donnai Diamond by marriage, said the family is very close and very upset about this situation. She used the same description of Donnai Diamond's personality as Snead.
"She was a fun-loving person... somebody [who] would make you laugh," she said. "She will be extremely missed."
Donnai Diamond's stepmother, Heather Diamond, told a similar story.
"She just had a lot of life in her," Heather Diamond said. "... She was loved and liked by everybody. She was just a happy person, and it showed. She had a beautiful smile. She had a beautiful personality."
Although Snead had already heard the news from friends, she heard it again Tuesday morning when all first-period classroom teachers read a statement prepared by SHS Principal John Nelson, according to Steve Edwards, coordinator of policy, records management and communications for Frederick County Public Schools.
Nelson communicated the news to all faculty and staff members Monday evening and called a faculty meeting for Tuesday morning to explain the protocol, Edwards noted.
"From what I understand, it's a bit of a somber tone at the school today as you would expect, but the school community is dealing with this and moving forward," Edwards said.
A crisis support team complete with school counselors from SHS, other schools and the central office, and grief counselors from Blue Ridge Hospice will be available for students and faculty as long as it's needed, Edwards said.
About 30 students used that service Tuesday, he added.
According to Heather Diamond, the wake will be held Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. and the funeral will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Turner Robertshaw Funeral Home.
The family is asking that any contributions be sent to that funeral home.