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Madison County community, students struggle to cope in aftermath of fatal crash

A fatal crash Wednesday night claimed the life of a 13-year-old Madison County girl, put her 12-year-old half-sister in intensive care and left the community in shock. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

A fatal crash Wednesday night claimed the life of a 13-year-old Madison County girl, put her 12-year-old half-sister in intensive care and left the community in shock.

RELATED | 1 Madison County student killed, 1 injured after DWI crash; woman charged

Kara Raby and her half-sister, Lillith DeCarlo, were on their way home from church when the Chevrolet Impala they were riding in was hit on US 25-70. DeCarlo, who was in the back seat, was pronounced dead after the crash. William Roberts was driving the car.

Madison County deputies said Sarah Shelton was driving south on the wrong side of the road when she hit Roberts' car. The 32-year-old is charged with DWI, felony death by vehicle and reckless driving.

Madison Middle School principal Nicholas Honeycutt visited Raby after she had surgery at Mission Hospital.

"She was able to speak with us clearly and wanted us to say hello to her teachers and her friends and tell them that she loves them," Honeycutt said Thursday. "She wants to get back, and she's ready for the end of grade test and doesn't want to miss too much of class."

Honeycutt said Raby is blind in one eye, and her other eye has a lot of glass in it from the shattered windshield. She has many other injuries, including a possible broken leg.

"She has lot of bruising and possibly some broken ribs," Honeycutt said. "Better than she could be doing. She's healing and recovering well."

Thursday afternoon, several grief counselors were at the middle school to help students cope. For some students that meant filling DeCarlo's locker with loving notes and a rainbow braided ribbon, which they said represented her colorful personality and ever-changing hair color.

They also left notes outside the school's band room, where she played trombone since sixth grade.

"Since she did love band so much, we're talking about possibly creating a special seat for her in the band room that will be a tribute for the rest of the year," Honeycutt said.

Early in the afternoon, DeCarlo's family members said they would have challenges with paying for her funeral. Within hours, dozens of Madison County business owners, elected officials and families donated more than enough for her service and gravestone.

The additional money raised will help pay for Raby's medical expenses with the rest going to the middle school band.

DeCarlo's family is still working out funeral details. Honeycutt said many students want to attend the services, which will likely be early next week.

"If we’re able to get a location big enough for students to attend, we will transport students there, or we’ll offer a service in our gymnasium, maybe even an evening service where community and parents can attend, as well," Honeycutt said.

Anyone who would like to donate can contact Madison Middle School or Blue Ridge Funeral Services.

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