UPDATE: The Facebook post upon which this story was largely based has apparently been taken down. That and the facts that the Chester Country Sheriff’s Office is not in the state in which this tragic accident took place, the apparent lack of mention of the cellphone in any other news coverage, and a statement from a self-described family friend that Katelyn Ray was not found with a cellphone in her hand, have caused us to reach out to the sheriff’s office to inquire about the source of their information and why they deleted the Facebook post. We will update this article with their response or lack thereof, and may issue a correction or retraction based on that information.
When the Mississippi Highway Patrol rushed to the scene of a deadly crash, what they found there will forever be a tragic reminder of the danger of using a cellphone while driving.
Early in the morning on Sept. 5, Katelyn Ray, 17, was driving on a highway in Panola County, Mississippi, to pick up her older sister from work when she rear-ended a school bus, filled with over a dozen students.
Thankfully, no one on the bus was injured and another school bus was called to take the students to school.
Tragically, Katelyn did not survive.
The Chester County Sheriff’s Office posted photos of the accident on Facebook with a grave warning to others: Katelyn appeared to have been using her cellphone when the crash occurred.
“***PAY ATTENTION!!*** The driver of the car was 17 years old,” the post read. “No black marks because she never hit the brakes and she still had the cell phone in her hand when they removed her from the car.”
“I said don’t forget to pick your sister up,” Katelyn’s mother Shelia Ray told CW30. “She said OK. Love you. And I said I love you too.”
That was the last time Shelia would speak to her daughter.
“We’ve been trying to call her and call her, no answer and then I got a phone call from the highway patrol, that said she had been really bad car accident,” she told CW30.
“I get off work at seven o’clock and that’s when I got worried because she wasn’t there,” Katelyn’s sister, Courtney Pettit, told CW30. “So, I gave her maybe 10 to 15 minutes. She may have stopped somewhere got her something to eat or something.
“About 7:30 a.m. when she wasn’t there, that’s when we started worrying,” she added.
Pettit became concerned and wrote a post on Facebook, asking if anyone had seen her sister.
Shortly after she wrote the Facebook post, the family received the devastating news.
“We don’t know what situation she was in, but when you look at that car, you can only think the worse,” Katelyn’s aunt Stephanie Pettit told CW30.
“A happy person like she was just happy, outgoing, bubbly,” she said. “She loved hanging out with friends and family. She was outgoing. She loved life, she loved her family.”
EXCLUSIVE – The family of 17 yr old Katelyn Ray provided me with this picture of her. Ray was killed in a school bus crash in South Panola County today. She was a proud aunt and working on her GED. RIP. pic.twitter.com/rVyrdviLAv
— Annette E. Peagler (@Local24Annette) September 6, 2018
Katelyn had just received her driver’s license two months before the crash.
Our condolences go out to Katelyn’s family. We hope that her tragic death will remind everyone to put down the cellphone and focus on the road.
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