Six teenage girls who were tragically killed in a collision with a semi-truck in Oklahoma were identified by authorities on Thursday as Tishomingo High School students Gracie Machado, Brooklyn Triplett, Austin Holt, Madison Robertson, Addison Gratz and Memory Wilson.
Ranging in age from 15 to 17 years old, the teenagers were packed into a four-seat compact car, according to the Daily Mail, and only the driver and front-seat passenger were wearing seatbelts. It remains unknown who among the girls was driving, or what caused the accident.
The deadly collision is currently being investigated by Oklahoma Highway Patrol in Tishomingo, a small town of roughly over 3,000 people. Valendon Burton, the 51-year-old semi-truck driver, was not injured in the wreck. Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokeswoman Sarah Stewart also stated that the driver did not intend to press any charges.
“I can’t even begin to express the heartbreak I know many families are feeling right now,” wrote Falesha Roberts, Madison Robertson’s aunt. Sharing a message of Facebook Tuesday following the crash, she shared photos of her niece and said that she was an “irreplaceable gift from God.”
“I’ll be forever grateful that I got to see your smile, know your kindness, and that I could call you my niece, Madison Patience Michelle Robertson,” she continued. “Your beautiful soul remains with us all, while you inherited your wings today!!”
Sadie Machado, Gracie Machado’s sister, also posted a photo on Facebook and wrote, “My best friend.”
Others from the neighborhood commented and offered prayers, questioning how such a tragic event could happen to their small town.
“Tishomingo Strong” signs decorated the town as residents paid tribute with a memorial for the six girls at the crash site, including photos and bouquets of flowers with their names on them. A local bank also started a donation drive that will help pay for the teenage victims’ funerals in full.
Tishomingo High School, where the teenage girls were just six of a small, tight-knit 240-student body, paid tribute to Gracie Machado, Brooklyn Triplett, Austin Holt, Madison Robertson, Addison Gratz and Memory Wilson on Wednesday by adorning flowers and photos on their front doors.
Tishomingo Superintendent Bobby Waitman told local reporters that they would remain open Wednesday to honor the girls, and stated that “the school is a place where many of our students want to be.”
“We feel like they need something constant in their lives,” Waitman said. “Many of them need to be with each other today.”
“They were known, they were not just a number,” he continued, addressing the girls and those who cared for them at the high school. “They were not just another student. These young people were loved by this community, and their loss is a great one to everyone involved.”
According to an online GoFundMe fundraiser for Brooklyn Triplett, she was an “amazing kid” and “one hell of a [soft]ball player.” The page has since raised over $1,500.
Country music star and The Voice celeb Blake Shelton, who owns a home just outside Tishomingo in Oklahoma, said he was shocked by the tragic wreck that gripped the state.
“I personally know the devastation of suddenly losing a loved one in a car accident,” Shelton told local reporters. “But our community is strong and has come together to support and wrap our arms around the families and friends that are hurting the most. There’s no question it will take a long time to heal from this tragedy. Keep the prayers coming.”
Funerals have not yet been scheduled but the school district is working with the families to plan a public memorial service on campus where members of the community can come and pay their respects.