Hickory students grieve loss of classmate after deadly crash

by: Eric Philips Updated:

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HICKORY, N.C. —

As students and community members entered the First Presbyterian Church in Hickory Monday afternoon, there was scripture taped to the door. Organizers were hoping to do everything they could to comfort a community in mourning. 

"Grief is a very real thing but hope exists," said the Rev. Heather Wood Davis.

RELATED: Teen killed, another charged in Hickory crash

Jay Robertson, 17, was killed in a car crash Sunday evening. Police say he was riding down 6th Street with his friend, 17-year-old David Engelmann, when Engelmann lost control and the car flipped.

Engelmann will have his first appearance Wednesday morning.

Teens gathered at the scene of the crash, and left flowers at Robertson’s parking spot at Hickory High School. They were in disbelief that their friend is gone. Nearly 20 grief counselors will be at school Tuesday to help students sort this all out.

"He was crazy but we loved him," said Connor Stirewalt. "He was our boy. He made us laugh all the time."

"He was invincible," said Dylan Tashjian. "We all thought nothing like this would ever happen to him."

Dominique Canahai happened to be driving by the crash Sunday night and was one of the first on scene. She said Robertson was lying on the ground but Engelmann was still inside the car and she was able to help him out.

"And I told him 'Are you OK?' and I was like praying to myself like, 'God please help this kid,'" Canahai said.

Police said speed and alcohol caused the crash. Engelmann is charged with felony death by motor vehicle and driving while impaired, among other charges. Channel 9 learned he is an Eagle Scout with a good reputation. Some believe the charges are too much.

"The punishment with him having to live the rest of his life with his friend being gone because of him is just unbearable in my opinion," Tashjian said.

Engelmann is out of jail on $10,000 bond.

The funeral for Robertson will be 11 a.m. Thursday at Corinth Church.