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Student's death is a hard blow

March 02, 1999

Briana Paige GossardBy ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer




Seated in the media center at South Hagerstown High School on Monday, David Teays carefully lifted Briana Paige Gossard's homecoming picture from the front page of the "memory book" he was compiling for her parents.

[cont. from front page]

"She was everybody's friend," said Teays, 14. "I guess you don't know exactly what you have until you lose it."

Gossard died Sunday evening of injuries she sustained when the car in which she was a passenger collided with another car at the intersection of Md. 66 and Mount Aetna Road, police said.

The only child of Theodore W. and Tina Marie Gossard, of 119 Dartmouth Road in Hagerstown, Briana Gossard, 15, was a sophomore at South Hagerstown High School.

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"She was a popular student who had a lot of people that cared about her," said Principal Michael J. Shockey. "I know that she was a real nice, personable kid who was taking challenging courses."

A member of the concert choir and All-County Chorus, Gossard was a "very good student" who worked hard, said guidance counselor Elizabeth Morgan.

"She was a great kid," said Morgan. "She was the kind of daughter that anybody would really like to have."

Morgan said grief counselors were on hand at the school on Monday to handle the "overwhelming response of students" who were grieving over Gossard's death.

"I just wish she was still here so I could be friends with her," said Tommy Jesson, 15. "I miss her," he said.

Morgan said the grieving process would not end on Monday, and that she expected a "ripple effect" as students and teachers were "very sad about the loss of a very nice person."

"The South High family is coping as well as can be expected," Shockey said.

He said the faculty met before school on Monday, and a letter detailing the accident was given to first-period teachers to read to students.

"Everybody heard the same thing," Shockey said.

Shockey said teachers were instructed to keep classes as structured as possible.

The 16-year-old driver of the car in which Gossard was riding was eastbound on Mount Aetna Road at 7:15 p.m. when his Volkswagen Fox collided with a Ford Mustang traveling north on Md. 66.

The driver, a South High student, sustained minor injuries. Gossard, who was in the front passenger seat, suffered injuries to the head, chest, abdomen, ankle and arm, police said.

She was pronounced dead later Sunday at Washington County Hospital.

The driver of the Mustang, John Joseph Williams, 30, of Smithsburg, was treated and released from Washington County Hospital.

One of the two passengers in Williams' car, Joseph Steven Williams, 10, was not injured. The other passenger, Michelle Rene Williams, 11, was treated and released from Washington County Hospital.

A viewing will be held from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Wednesday at Osbourne Funeral Home in Williamsport.

The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Rehoboth United Methodist Church, 30 E. Salisbury St. in Williamsport. Interment will be in Cedar Lawn Memorial Park in Hagerstown.

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