Senior Shania “Lucy” Boettcher, 18, and 2010 graduate Darius Valcarcel, 22, both of Woodstock, died when the Ford Explorer they were riding in lost control on Interstate 285, rolling several times.
Boettcher, a senior in the class of 2014, was set to graduate from Etowah High School on Friday. Instead, a seat will remain empty during the graduation ceremony in memory of her, said Cherokee County School District Deputy Superintendent Dr. Brian Hightower.
“Eagle Mountain is in mourning for two fallen Eagles,” Hightower said. “As is tradition at Etowah High School, a chair is left empty at the graduation ceremony for any student from the class who has passed away. A chair will be left empty for Lucy, her name will be listed in the program and her name will be read along with her graduating classmates.”
The driver, Shauna Clausen, 17, of Acworth, was good friends with Boettcher and the girlfriend of Valcarcel.
Clausen is a senior at Etowah High School, and was set to graduate with Boettcher on Friday.
“I lost my best friend and the love of my life, while mine was spared,” Clausen wrote on a social media site after the wreck. “How do you cope?”
The accident is still under investigation, but Dunwoody Police spokesman Tim Fecht said initial reports indicate that Clausen got distracted by another passenger in the car, causing her to lose control.
“The driver overcorrected, causing the vehicle to turn sideways, then roll several times, coming to rest on the right shoulder,” Fecht said in a news release.
Boettcher was in the back seat of the SUV, and was not wearing a seatbelt when the wreck happened, a Dunwoody Police report states. She died after being ejected from the SUV.
Valcarcel, who was wearing a seatbelt and sitting in the front passenger seat, was partially ejected from the car and killed when the SUV rolled over, police said.
Clausen was left with cuts on her arms and hands, the police report states.
The other passenger in the car was Anthony White, 21, of Dallas, Texas. He was riding in the back seat with Boettcher and was left with a small cut on his left leg, the report states.
Clausen and White were transported to Grady Memorial Hospital after the wreck with non-life threatening injuries, police said.
Counselors were available Wednesday at the school, and will be on-hand today for the last day of classes, said School District spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby.
Jacoby said students were told about the deaths of their classmate and Valcarcel on Wednesday.
“The principal met this morning with the senior class, prior to graduation practice, and shared with them the news and talked about how it will affect the graduation ceremony,” Jacoby said Wednesday.
Students planned a vigil for Wednesday night at the school to remember Boettcher and Valcarcel, Jacoby added.