Brothers among 3 teens killed in crash

Three teenagers - two of them brothers - were killed in a collision in South Fulton County Sunday night after a homecoming celebration at their former high school.

Jerrett Mumford and Ibrahim Sankoh, both 18, died in the two-car crash, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office said Monday. The third victim was identified as 16-year-old Jaylen Mumford. All of the teenagers are from College Park.

Police on Monday provided few details about the 8:15 p.m. crash in the 5800 block of Buffington Road in Union City.

Friends and family were mourning the loss of three beloved student athletes, two of them just starting college after earning high school diplomas in May.

Khadijatu Sankoh stood in shock Monday afternoon, trying to find a way to make sense of the loss of her son, “my hero,” and “my best friend.”

Ibrahim was the oldest of three boys, whose parents were born in Sierra Leone. Khadijatu relied on her oldest son, as he was the responsible one, a kid who would pick up his younger brothers from school and pre-school if his mother was tied up at her job at Emory University. He was funny and he was humble. His mother was proud of those qualities in her son.

“I have high hopes for him and he has high hopes for himself,” Khadijatu Sankoh said.

Nykia Green-Young, a family friend of the Mumfords, called the baseball-loving brothers “very respectful young men, scholars and athletes” from a tight-knit family.

Sunday night was the kickoff for homecoming week at Banneker High School and the three had returned for the annual ritual. It was a time of celebration at Banneker, a time of passing the torch, especially for Jerrett Mumford. Now enrolled at Alabama State University with plans of pursuing a degree in medicine, he had come home to fulfill a duty. Last year during homecoming, he had been crowned Mr. Banneker High School. It was an honor bestowed on the student whose classmates found to be an outstanding leader, one who was not simply involved with his school but his community.

This year he’d returned to crown the new Mr. Banneker. Banneker Principal Duke Bradley knew he could depend on Jerrett and his younger brother Jaylen to show up, even though Jaylen has recently transferred to Westlake High School. In fact, he had only been at his new school a week. But for the three young men, Banneker was home.

Everyone was dressed in their finest, there was a talent show, music, dancing and speeches. The new homecoming court announced, Jerrett passed the banner on to his successor.

“It was the best coronation we’ve had in recent history,” Bradley said. “It was as festive an event at our school that we have beyond the graduation ceremony.”

Sankoh had been a standout in wrestling, football and soccer. He was headed to Georgia State University, Bradley said. The Mumford brothers had been baseball and football stars. All had been student leaders.

Grief counselors fanned out through Banneker on Monday for a student body that the principal described as “just really grieving.” Ironically, this is the second homecoming in a row where the school as lost a student to an accident. Outside the school, parents could be heard talking on cell phones about the accident, and expressing concern for the Mumford and Sankoh families.

The Mumford family were members of Friendship Community Church in Fairburn, and had two other children, a son and a daughter, Bradley said.

After the coronation, Jerrett had planned to drive back to Alabama State. He, his brother and Sankoh, were about two miles away from the school when the accident happened.

Bradley shook his head at the thought of it.

“I told Jerrett to remember that being Mr. Banneker comes with obligations and responsibilities,” Bradley said. “He said, ‘Yes sir. I got it.’”

Soon afterward, the crash would claim his life.

Michael Thrasher said he was visiting a store around the corner from the crash site when he heard the crunching of metal. He left the store and saw a truck flipped upside down and hysterical girls.

Thrasher said he didn’t recognize the Mumford brothers, part of a family who is active in the baseball community, until family members came to the scene.

“Little Mumford looked just like he was laying outside the car,” Thrasher said.

Another teen in the car was trapped.

Thrasher said his first instinct was to help, but he didn’t want to touch anybody, so he dialed 911.

“And it breaks your heart because they were all good kids,” Thrasher said.

The medical examiner’s office has not determined a cause or manner of death Monday.

Jaylen Mumford “had only been a Westlake student for a week,” Fulton County schools spokeswoman Susan Hale said. “We have a Crisis Care Team at the school which is providing support to students and staff through counseling.”

Kenneth Anderson, whose son played baseball at Banneker with the Mumfords, said the younger Mumford was playing for a travel baseball league.

“It’s going to be a loss that you can’t replace,” Anderson said. “I’m devastated.”

He said he hasn’t had much sleep and needed to come to the scene to see the tragedy himself.

“I still don’t believe it,” Anderson said.

Tijuana Anderson, who called the crash a “devastating loss,” said the Sankoh and the Mumford brothers were humble, nice, athletic and some of the best kids she’d ever met.

“It’s already a big impact because I was actually at work, and I had to get off work,” she said. “I just couldn’t stand it. I had to go. I just had to be here on the scene.”

Greene-Young said the Mumford family was grieving and turning to their faith to try to make sense of the loss.

We have lost two great young men and this is very hard for the family,” said Greene-Young. “But we are going to let God be our guide.”

Ibrahim’s mother said he had just gotten his driver’s license earlier this year, and she had recently given him money to put a new sound system in his car. He never wanted to be without his music, dancing and singing in the shower most days as he got ready to leave the house. A close second to music was football, a sport he loved and saw as a possible path to one day provide for his family.

“’Don’t worry mom, I’m going to take care of you,’” Khadijatu Sankoh recalled her son saying time and time again.

As a pround Banneker alumnae, he didn’t hesitate to attend the homecoming festivities on Sunday with his friends, the Mumford brothers. The last time she saw her oldest child, he was leaving to join his buddies, his mother said.

“I was thinking my son is going to be the one burying me, not me burying my son,” she said. “God is the one who gave him to me and he took him back. I can never question God.”

A candlelight vigil is planned for Thursday at Banneker High School, she said.

On social media, people posted condolences using the hashtag #ripmumford.