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October 8, 2013

Cullman student killed in Colbert Co. car crash

A Cullman teenager was killed along with another man early Sunday morning in a one-vehicle crash in Colbert County, marking the second tragic death of a Cullman High student within a month.

Jesse Ayers, 19, of Cullman was traveling in a 2006 Ford Focus driven by Stephen Mitchell, 22, of Leighton on Colbert County Road 77 when the car ran off the road at approximately 1 a.m. The vehicle reportedly struck a culvert and landed upside down in a small stream, partially ejecting Ayers.

Both men were pronounced dead at the scene.

Ayers was originally from Colbert County and was there over the weekend visiting friends. He moved to Cullman in 2011 and would have graduated next year.

According to Alabama State Trooper Reports, Ayers and Mitchell were not wearing seatbelts. The cause of the crash is still under investigation by the Alabama State Troopers, though officials say speed is believed to have been a factor.

Ayers’ crash follows the reported accidental death of fellow Cullman High student Nicholas Fillinger in late September.

Cullman High School Principal Elton Bouldin said students were notified of Ayers’ passing in homeroom, and the staff is offering similar counseling options and small group meetings — much like when Fillinger passed away.

A student-led prayer meeting was held at 7 a.m. Monday morning for Ayers’ family, and students have been able to meet with counselors and local pastors throughout the day.

“Both of those students, Nicholas and Jesse, had a lot of close friends on campus. These kids have shown incredible love for one another, because something like this is typically an every 20 year event — and we’ve already lost two this year,” Bouldin said. “It's obviously a very difficult time for our students. We’re allowing our students an opportunity to write, to talk, to share, or do nothing — just whatever they need to do. They’re also taking notes and posters the students have created and sharing them with the families, to let them know we’re grieving with them. We’re just trying to assist our students and faculty in any way we can.”

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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