Ciera Burnett was full of life and had lots of friends.
The 18-year-old Miss Burnett, a recent graduate of Thomson High School, had just been accepted at Middle Georgia College in Cochran for the fall session. She had planned to pursue a degree in business management.
Miss Burnett's life was tragically cut short, however, when the car she was driving slammed nearly head-on into a pickup truck June 29 on Moose Club Road in McDuffie County. For two days, she clung to life in critical condition at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta, family members recalled. She died July 1 from injuries she received in the two-vehicle collision, said Coroner Rhusha Mack.
On Wednesday, July 4, Georgia State Patrol Sgt. Perry Hobbs and Trooper First Class Marion Bragg went back to the scene and reconstructed the mishap. There findings had not been made available as of Monday.
Sgt. Hobbs, who is assigned to the Thomson GSP post, said Miss Burnett was driving a Toyota Camry westbound on Moose Club Road about 5 p.m. on June 29. As she was about to complete rounding a curve in the roadway, for some unknown reason, the car slammed into a Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck, driven by Phillip Ammons, 32, of Harlem, Sgt. Hobbs said.
Mr. Ammons managed to escape without any serious injuries.
A medical helicopter, however, had to be summoned for Miss Burnett.
Funeral services were conducted last Saturday for Miss Burnett, who had served as a cheerleader during her junior and senior years at Thomson High School.
For nearly three months, she had lived with her uncle and aunt, Clinton and Deloris Moon, of Culver Street - less than a mile and a half from where the fatal crash occurred.
"She was always smiling about something," recalled Mr. Moon, who adopted Miss Burnett's 16-year-old sister, Siloam, several years ago. "She had a beautiful smile. And the way she carried herself just made her a sweetheart."
His daughter agreed.
"She always had a smile on her face, even when she was a little upset about something," said Siloam. "You could never really tell if she was really mad or not. If she ever was mad about anything, she would always shrug it off."
Miss Moon, who will be a rising junior at Thomson High School when school doors open again, said she will greatly miss the talks she and her older sister shared.
"I loved the fact that I could go to her and talk to her about anything," added Miss Moon. "I'm going to miss those times a lot."
Miss Burnett, who maintained a B-average during her four years of high school, "wanted to make something of her life," Miss Moon said. "She wanted to have a good job, make good money and have nice things someday."
The four days prior to the wreck, Miss Burnett had been using her sister's car to drive back and forth to another aunt's residence in Dearing to attend Vacation Bible School at First Mount Carmel Baptist Church in the Winfield Community.
"She was coming down here like she had done all week," said her Aunt Sandra Martin. "From here, she and her cousin, Tykia Key, were going to get in my daughter's car and drive to Aiken, S.C. for a gospel sing."
One of Miss Burnett's other sisters, Marquita, also had planned to journey with them to the gospel sing.
Miss Key, 18, who was class president of the 2006 THS Class, and now a rising sophomore at Howard University in Washington, D.C., was scheduled to sing that evening, explained Ms. Martin.
"We're all going to miss Ciera so much," added Ms. Martin.
A number of Miss Burnett's former classmates, family members and close friends gathered at the rock on the front lawn of Thomson High School last Friday night to remember her with her a candlelight vigil.