Fatal wreck on 97 claims life of NHS student

Published 10:23am Monday, December 12, 2011

The Bratt community is once again mourning the loss of a young member of their community after a sophomore at Northview High School passed away Thursday morning at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola from injuries he sustained during a Wednesday morning car wreck on Pine Barron Road.

Kenneth Wade Jernigan, 16, was taken by LifeFlight from the scene of the accident after his 1999 Chevrolet pick-up truck left the road and struck a tree.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Jernigan’s truck drifted onto the east shoulder of Pine Barron Road. As Jernigan attempted to re-enter the roadway he over corrected and lost control of the vehicle. According to FHP reports, Jernigan was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. He was pronounced dead at Sacred Heart Thursday at 9:38 a.m.

In the wake of the fatal accident, Northview Principal Gail Weaver said students and teachers alike are struggling to come to terms with the loss.

“We are certainly saddened by the loss of Wade as a member of our Northview family,” Weaver said. “He was very nice young man.”

Weaver said the death of a student is always tough, but can be even more difficult in smaller schools like Northview.

“Wade knew a lot of people, and a lot of people knew Wade,” she said. “Generally speaking, the student body has been affected by this school wide.”

Weaver said in the wake of Jernigan’s death, grief counselors have been on campus at Northview to help students and teachers cope with the loss.

“Each school has a grief response plan,” Weaver said. “We have had three overlay grief counselors come to talk with the students.”

Weaver said next comes the painful task of getting back to the day-to-day routine of school as students and teachers continue to try and heal from the blow of Jernigan’s death.

“(The students) are very subdued. Very quite,” Weaver said. “They’ve been very contemplative over the last few days. Wade was just a very nice young man. We will feel his loss at Northview for many years to come.”

Jernigan’s death comes only months after Bratt native, 19-year-old Marine LCpl. Travis Nelson was killed while on duty in Afghanistan.

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