Teens grieve friend killed in S.C. crash

Samantha Reynolds was full of life, said David Hertweck, youth pastor at Trinity Assembly of God in Clay.

"She was every great thing you could think of in a young person," he said, using words such as confident, outgoing and energetic to describe her. "[She] loved people, loved God. She loved her family."

Reynolds' young life was taken abruptly at 14 years old. She was killed in a wrong-way crash early Saturday morning while on her way to Disney World -- a vacation her family planned to make over spring break.

Raphael Gonzalez Martinez, 31, of Bowman, S.C., hit the family's van about two miles after he got onto Exit 102 on Interstate 95 and headed north on a southbound lane. He sideswiped two cars before colliding with two vans, one of which was driven by William Reynolds, Samantha's dad.

"This is a horrific tragedy for the family," said Jan Matousek, superintendent of the Liverpool School District.

Though schools are closed this week, counselors were on hand Monday at Soule Road Middle School where Samantha attended eighth grade. Counselors provided support to just over 50 students, Matousek said.

Hertwick also counseled grieving students and met with several early in the week.

"They're running the full gamut of emotions," he said. "From crying one minute to laughing the next. There's a little bit of numbness and denial still involved."

Samantha belonged to the youth group held Wednesday nights at the church located on Route 31. She began in the children's group about five years ago and moved over to the youth ministry program as she got older. Hertwick said this Wednesday would be a very different night for the group.

"We'll be spending pretty much all of our evening talking about grief and loss," he said. "We're hoping it will be a time of some healing. Teenagers are strong and resilient and they lean on each other. There's a lot of sadness."

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