Students and staff mourn the loss of three Wa-Hi students

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- KEPR is continuing to cover the tragedy in Walla Walla that resulted in the deaths of three high school students. The kids died after flipping in a car early Sunday morning. Today was their classmates' first day back to classes. We spoke to students and those helping them through their grief.

Yellow and purple are the colors worn by many grieving students at Walla Walla High. They are the class colors for freshmen and sophomores. It's a way to show support and come together for the three students who lost their lives Sunday morning.

"The mood was just super low, because going to class and everything, you see some of the strongest people that you know just break down," said freshman Poppy Small. "It's hard personally, too, because you try to be strong for everybody else, and there's just some times when you just have to let yourself go."

The three victims were 15-year-old Athena Bentley, 16-year-old Uziel Bermoy and 17-year-old Aidan Boede. They never made it back to school after the long weekend. All three died out on Mill Creek Road after a single-car crash. It's not clear who was driving, but investigators believe their car was speeding.

Their classmates have nothing but good words to describe the three victims.

"Uziel was one of my friends who when you saw him in the hall, he always said 'Hi' to you and was like 'Hi, Samantha, have a great day,' and had a smile on his face and always made your day better," said senior Samantha French.

The media was kept off campus while counselors were set up all day in the library. Students could excuse themselves at any time if they were struggling. There was paper available to write letters for the family, as well as yearbooks for everyone to sign. Hundreds took advantage of the opportunity.

"There appears to be a lot of disbelief," said school counselor Angie Gardea. "They're having a really hard time, struggling with the idea of death and that kind of being really final."

Gardea says they've had tragedies in her 16 years with the district, but not like this - never an incident with multiple deaths at once.

"It's almost unreal, like when I heard it happened, I didn't believe it," said senior McKenna French. "I felt so in shock, like, 'No, they're coming back, this isn't real."

But the three girls say, as devastating as the past couple days have been, they are so proud of their community for coming together and grieving as one. Poppy Small says the overwhelming number of people upset by the accident is an example of how many lives the students touched.

"The people that they affected in so many positive ways is really amazing," she said. "I'm really thankful that I got to be a part of all of their lives."

It is still unclear where the students were coming from or where they were headed when they crashed on the country road. We also don't know if alcohol or drugs were a factor.

If you want to help the families with funeral costs, there is an account set up at Banner Bank on 9th Street in Walla Walla for all three teens.

There is a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.