Etowah High student, graduate killed in I-285 wreck

Etowah High student, graduate killed in I-285 wreck

A young woman slated to graduate from high school Friday was one of two people killed in a one-vehicle wreck that shut down I-285 eastbound, Tuesday night.

Shania Boettcher, 18, and Darius Valcarcel, 22, both of Woodstock, died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, according to Dunwoody police. Two of their friends were also injured in the wreck.

Boettcher was a member of the Etowah High School Class of 2014, scheduled to graduate Friday, according to a statement from Cherokee County schools spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby. The statement also confirmed Valcarcel was a 2010 graduate of Etowah High and that one of the injured is also a senior at the school.

A vigil was held at the school tonight. Students, friends, family and loved ones gathered.

Anthony White, who said he was Boettcher’s boyfriend of almost two years, suffered minor injuries in the crash. He described his girlfriend as a “bright, brilliant person” who was “beautiful beyond measure.”

Hailey Lyerly said she was torn up after her friend’s death, but, “I have peace about it because I know I’m going to see her again.”

Earlier in the day, Taylor Clarke, class of 2010, said Darius was on the wrestling team and was friendly.

“He was a funny guy,” Clarke said. “I had a couple classes with him.”

Darius and Shania, whom everyone called Lucy, were part of group that was headed to see the laser show at Stone Mountain at the time of the crash, friends said.

“Eagle Mountain is in mourning for two fallen Eagles,” Deputy Superintendent Brian Hightower said in a statement. “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.”

Freshman Melissa Wright didn’t know those killed, but said she was saddened by the morning announcements about the deaths.

“One girl’s mouth dropped,” Melissa said. “We all kind of stopped. We all had final exams, but it was still there.”

Police said the wreck happened about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. The driver of a Ford Explorer, traveling eastbound, lost control of the SUV and the vehicle rolled several times, according to a news release. One passenger was completely ejected, while another was partially ejected. Boettcher and Valcarcel died at the scene.

The driver of the SUV and another passenger were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

—Staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this report.

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