GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) –Two teenagers were killed and two others critically injured after their SUV collided with a semi Monday night in Sumner County.
The crash happened around 6:30 p.m. on Highway 109 at Old State Highway 109 just north of the Gallatin city limits.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol said the teens were traveling northbound on Highway 109 when they approached Old State Highway and attempted to make a left turn at the flashing yellow light.
Witnesses reported the teens hesitated briefly before attempting the turn. An oncoming tractor trailer slammed into the SUV.
Passengers Austin Osborne, 16, and Kayla Perdue, 16, were killed instantly. The driver, Justin Lemmonds Jr., 16, and Caitlyn Taylor, 17, were transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with serious injuries believed to be life-threatening.
Authorities told News 2 all four teenagers were members of the Portland High School bowling team.
The driver of the tractor trailer was not injured. Authorities stated the semi had no way of stopping, calling the accident unavoidable.
Small Portland town grieves loss of students
The town of Portland is grieving.
Students and dozens more from the community gathered at the high school parking lot to pray and console one another.
Portland Mayor Ken Wilber told News 2 that tragedies like Monday’s can devastate a small town.
Tuesday, a small group of Portland High seniors gathered at the school to care for their memorial garden.
The memorial was started by the senior class of 2012 as a way to remember students and teachers who have died.
One senior told News 2 the decision was made to clean up the garden after hearing of Monday’s accident.
“This is a tragic loss for Portland High School and the Portland community. We are all grieving together at the loss of these two very special people and we pray for the quick and safe recovery of the two students who were injured. Although this an extremely difficult time, the Portland community remains strong and will rally around these students and families,” said Portland High School Principal David Woods said in a statement.
Sumner County Schools spokesperson Jeremy Johnson said all events scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at Portland High School have been canceled. In addition, grief counselors will be at the school for the remainder of the week to help students and staff work through the grieving process.