White balloons flooded the sky above the Eagle’s Landing High School football stadium Monday evening.

Among the silence, some students, family members and staff slumped over in their seats or hugged one another while remembering the four students who died in a wreck Wednesday.

“Love is one of the most powerful emotions that we are capable of feeling and the amount of hurt that I’ve seen these past few days shows me how deeply you all love, how deeply these kids were loved — are loved,” Eagle’s Landing baseball coach Christopher Chow told the crowd from the podium. “We were given a gift. A gift of the time that we got to share with those who we lost. A gift of their smiles, their laughter, friendship. And now is the time to mourn the loss of that gift.”

On Wednesday, a Nissan Altima carrying five students wrecked about 3:15 p.m. after it left Oak Grove Road and struck several trees. It’s a narrow road with a sudden drop that goes into a small ravine, pine straw and foliage leading the way down.

Katrina Owens, 15, Kenderrias “KD” Dodson, 16, and Jordan Brown, 15, all died on impact, police said. Kendarius Jackson, 16, died in the hospital Friday. The lone survivor, 15-year-old Zakrya Jones, was released from the hospital over the weekend.

The wreck site is now a growing memorial. Bright balloons flapping in the wind, fuzzy teddy bears and several bouquets of fresh flowers lay on the shoulder of the road and extend down into the trees.

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A memorial was growing Monday along Oak Grove Road where the car went off the road.

Credit: Caroline Silva

A memorial was growing Monday along Oak Grove Road where the car went off the road.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Combined ShapeCaption
A memorial was growing Monday along Oak Grove Road where the car went off the road.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Credit: Caroline Silva

When Chow received the news that Dodson had died, he broke down. Nothing mattered in that moment.

“One of my guys were gone. Ripped away,” he said. “Then I found out about the others. Our lives have changed forever. We’ve lost friends, brothers, sisters, suddenly lifted out of our story. It hurts. It sucks so bad.”

For some, it has become difficult to focus on anything other than the crash that claimed their friends’ lives. For others, they hope to continue their legacy and hold on to the cheery memories.

Jackson Andrews, a senior at Union Grove High School in McDonough, said he met Dodson at SkyZone, where they worked together. Outside of work, they shared a friendly rivalry on the baseball field. After every game they played against each other, Dodson would hug Andrews.

ExploreFamily grieving deaths of Henry County high school student, friends after crash

Jadyn Bennett and Shaquan Jenkins, both seniors at Eagle’s Landing, also worked with Dodson at SkyZone and got to share the halls with him. As new students, they both said Dodson impacted their lives tremendously by welcoming them with open arms.

“I don’t know a lot of people out here because I just moved here, so knowing him — my circle is really small — so it impacted me a lot knowing him,” Bennett said.

For those who had known Dodson for years, the news hit even harder.

Riding the bus together all four years between 2016 and 2020, Jordan Albright and Dodson became close. If they weren’t chatting away in the bus, they were singing together in the choir.

“He was absolutely never, ever not smiling. He was just always cracking jokes, always finding something to laugh at even if it was to the point where a teacher had to tell him to stop talking. He was just always just so happy,” Albright said.

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Katrina Owens (from left), Kendarius Jackson, Kenderrias Dodson and Jordan Brown

Credit: Family Photos / Channel 2 Action News

Katrina Owens (from left), Kendarius Jackson, Kenderrias Dodson and Jordan Brown

Credit: Family Photos / Channel 2 Action News

Combined ShapeCaption
Katrina Owens (from left), Kendarius Jackson, Kenderrias Dodson and Jordan Brown

Credit: Family Photos / Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Family Photos / Channel 2 Action News

Albright hadn’t spoken with Dodson since the COVID-19 pandemic forced all students to transition to online learning. Now she regrets not connecting with him sooner. If she could see him again, she said she would hug him. Just hug him.

Myia Rozier, an eighth grader at the high school, met Owens when she was in the fifth grade and they stuck together. She now spends hours keeping herself distracted. She said it’s easier than coming to terms with her friend’s death.

“She was always a hype person. Anytime you see her she would be laughing, smiling. It was always good energy with her,” Rozier said.

Owens was like a little sister for Maleia Ali. She would check in with her, look after her. The 10th grader described Owens as full of life and energetic.

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The Eagle's Landing High School football stadium was crowded with white balloons Monday evening during a vigil to remember the four students who were killed.

Credit: Tyson Horne

The Eagle's Landing High School football stadium was crowded with white balloons Monday evening during a vigil to remember the four students who were killed.

Credit: Tyson Horne

Combined ShapeCaption
The Eagle's Landing High School football stadium was crowded with white balloons Monday evening during a vigil to remember the four students who were killed.

Credit: Tyson Horne

Credit: Tyson Horne

Brown, who was Owens’ best friend, was quiet and shy, Ali said. Their opposing energies meant they complimented each other.

Even classmates who only knew the students in passing have been impacted by the tragedy.

As a friend of Owens’ brother, Tylon Redmond feels helpless. The 10th grader said he wishes he could help the family, just take their pain away. He has taken the tragedy as a lesson and started spending more time with his younger sister.

“It just makes you very aware because I have a sister myself and to not see his baby sister come home, it just makes you very aware of your surroundings and what you’re doing,” Redmond said.

Clifford Wisinger, a 10th grader, was a baseball teammate of Dodson, who he said always wore No. 22. Dodson’s energy was unmatched, he said. The same could be said for Jackson, who played basketball.

ExploreAuthorities ID 3 students killed in crash near Henry County high school

With just a week left until seniors graduate and students depart for summer break, staff and community leaders hope Jackson, Owens, Dodson and Brown will be forever remembered.

“We’re here in this moment because there is power in healing with one another. Power and sharing and the honoring of four special young people gone far too soon. For golden eagles, who we will miss dearly,” Principal Kesha Jones said. “Four young students may not physically be with us to walk the halls of our school again. But their vibrant spirits will forever be in the hearts and the minds of the Eagle’s Landing community.”