Trojans mourn four

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, January 8, 2014

In the matter of three short weeks, Troy University lost four students. The Trojan family will remember them in a candlelight vigil at the Bibb Graves Quad Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

In his 30 years at the school, Herbert Reeves, dean of student services, has never seen the school lose so many in such a short period of time.

“Over the course of semester, we’ve had as many as three students. But this was three weeks,” he said.

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The first death occurred shortly after winter commencement. Haijiao Sun graduated Dec. 13. He, his father, cousin and aunt were killed in a wreck during a Florida road trip.

“They were heading to Miami to take a flight home to China and doing some sightseeing when they were hit head-on by a truck northbound on I-75,” Reeves said.

Sun died Dec. 21 from injuries sustained in the wreck near Gainesville.

Kimberle Johnson turned 21 on Christmas day. She celebrated that birthday by attending a rap concert at a Montgomery nightclub the following Friday night.

Her cousin, Shinice Williams, said Johnson arrived at the club at around midnight. About an hour later, rapper Doe B called her on stage to wish her a happy birthday.

“Within like two minutes, someone threw a bottle on the stage and then 15 to 17 rounds were shot,” Williams said.

Johnson died at the scene.

Johnson was a junior at Troy seeking a degree in the human service field, said Troy student Olivia Dew. She and Johnson worked together at Chick-fil-A.

“She wanted to run a Boys and Girls Club one day. She just wanted to work with children,” Dew said. “It’s a broad field. So, she could have done anything. She was a very sweet girl … very motivated, very confident.”

Kristin Fuller, 18, was fatally shot at a house party in Crenshaw County early New Year’s Day by a friend and fellow Troy student. The incident is still under investigation.

Fuller, a freshman social work major, graduated from Crenshaw Christian Academy in Luverne. As news of her death spread throughout Pike and Crenshaw counties, friends and acquaintances mourned the girl they new on social media, posting photos and messages on Twitter and Facebook.

“My dear sweet, unpredictable Kristin, how I will miss you,” wrote Sheila Butler, a former teacher and counselor at Crenshaw Christian Academy. She posted the message, along with a photo of a young Fuller dressed as Harry Potter, on her Facebook page.

“So much life to live, so much more to see and do,” Butler said. “But in one brief moment everything changed. May God grant the ‘peace that passeth all understanding’ to the Fuller family and friends. I love you all.”

Troy football player Jadarius Garner was found dead lying in the middle of a highway near O’Reilly, Miss. Jan. 2.

Garner, a sophomore from Clarksdale, Miss., was a defensive lineman on the Troy football team for the last two seasons. Two busloads of teammates attended this week’s funeral service.

“Jadarius was a well respected member of our football team and his loss will be felt by all of us,” said Troy head coach Larry Blakeney last Thursday.

The university sent an email to staff and students Wednesday, reminding them of grief counseling services available to them.

The Student Counseling Center is located on College Drive, across from Paden House. In addition to four counselors on staff, the university has several faculty members trained in counseling and at the disposal of students and faculty.

“We’re also letting them know in this email we’re sending out that there are resources in the community,” Reeves said.

Those who are uncomfortable seeking counseling on campus can get a referral to counselors and clergy off campus.

“My advice to them (students) would be … we have the resources here,” Reeves said. “Please, take advantage of them.”