Hundreds of students at Georgia Southern University, some in white jackets, attended a memorial for five nursing students who died in a crash near Savannah.
Friends described the five juniors from Georgia Southern as smart, serious about their careers as future nurses and full of laughter.
Flowers hang in their memory in front of the university’s nursing school.
“(It's sad) just to know how close they were to finishing and the great things that they were doing for those patients, being nursing students,” GSU nursing student Cydnie Mitchell said.
"I love you, girl. I'm going to miss you and never forget you. You have the caring to be a great nurse and to me you will always be one," one woman said during the ceremony.
"We are all very, very close to her. She was our best friend and we will miss her very dearly," another student said remembering one of the students.
Emily Clark, Abbie Deloach, Morgan Bass, Caitlyn Baggett and McKay Pittman were on their way to a hospital in Savannah for their last rotation of the semester when a truck driver who didn't see cars braking in front of him and smashed into their car early Wednesday morning, causing the women’s car to go up in flames, according to the Georgia State Patrol.
Flags were at half-staff at the school and on fraternity row Thursday.
Several of the victims were a big part of the Greek community at Georgia Southern.
“We have really become a family in the last day or two,” Mitchell said.
A witness of the crash who told her that he wishes he could have done more to save the young women.
“I’ve never witnessed anything like that before. That was awful,” Terry Medley said. “They were the ones that were supposed to be saving our lives.”
The Georgia State Patrol confirmed Thursday afternoon that John Wayne Johnson, 55, of Shreveport, Louisiana, was the driver accused of causing the deadly wreck.
WSB-TV learned the company that Johnson was working for has dozens of citations, but details of Johnson's record have not be released at this point.
Parents say McKay Pittman was a loving, caring daughter
The parents of McKay Pittman are still trying to figure out why their daughter was taken from them. They spoke to WSB-TV’s Mike Petchenik Thursday.
At just 21, McKay's parents say, she was mature beyond her years.
"She was responsible, she was caring, she was loving," said Sherrin Pittman, McKay’s mother. "She was that kid that was going somewhere."
"Over spring break, she went on a mission trip to the University of Miami, spoke to people who barely spoke English trying to help them understand the word of hope," said Sam Pittman, McKay’s father.
A 2012 high school graduate, McKay was studying at Georgia Southern to be a nurse; her mother says she wanted to improve people's lives.
"She was that kid who wanted to go on mission trips, that kid who wanted to practice nursing in rural Georgia because she didn't feel like they have the medicine that we do here," Sherrin Pittman said. “She was that kid who had her shoes stolen last week at the nursing school and she said 'they needed them more than I did.'"
McKay’s parents said she was the kind of kid who called her parents every day.
"I did not a get a call that one morning, which was yesterday morning and I knew that something happened," Sherrin Pittman said.
"Why she got taken from us so early we'll never know,” Sherrin Pittman said.
"We're going to miss her," Sam Pittman said.
Funeral arrangements for McKay are still being worked out.
Community decks out neighborhood in white for Emily Clark
White bows are displayed on mailboxes in the Powder Springs neighborhood where Emily Clark's family lives.
A community of friends and family are comforting each other through the pain. On Twitter, hashtag #GSUStrong and on Facebook, memories and gratitude are shared.
Emily's boyfriend posted on his Facebook, "I simply ask that you please continue to pray for her family and the other families affected by this event. And once again, thank you for all of your continuous prayers. I am blessed and loved more than I could ever imagine."
The post continues, "I simply ask that you please continue to pray for her family and the other families affected by this event. And once again, thank you for all of your continuous prayers."
Friends and former co-workers remember Emily as a vibrant girl.
"Emily was a very vibrant girl. She's always really happy, always smiling, always cracking jokes with me," Emmie Trull said. “I saw where she had a little sister so I'm definitely going to be praying for her little sister because I have a little brother. I can't even imagine what the family is going through.”
"Emily was an amazing person. If you see a picture she was a beautiful girl. But her beauty on the inside abounded," said Heather Woods.
At the end of the memorial, the nursing students stood up and said the
Nightingale pledge they first said when they began their experience as nurses.
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Channel 2's Rachel Stockman, Mike Petchenik, Wendy Corona and Carl Willis contributed to this story.