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Sunday, September 29, 1996

Death of two students stun ACHS

Staff Writer

Students, parents and administrators were in a state of shock after two Abilene Christian High School juniors died in an accident Friday night.

Melody Claire Hall and Lyn Holly Bell, both 16, were northbound on Griffith Road when Bell lost control of the car, veered off the road and struck the treeline at about 10:20 p.m., according to Abilene Police Lt. John Vedro.

Hall and Bell were both pronounced dead at the scene, Vedro said.

"They grew up with my son," said Debbie Hoffman, who works in administrative office at Abilene Christian. "They were both great kids, good students involved in lots of outside activities."

With a total of only about 330 students and 25 in the junior class, Abilene Christian is a small, tight-knit community, Hoffman said.

"Most of the kids knew them and most of the teachers had had them," she said. "(The school is) small enough that when anything happens to us, it happens to all of us. We're a family."

Hall and Bell were both at the Abilene Christian-Paint Rock High School game, which was called when a player on the opposing team was hurt. Abilene Christian won the game, 61-16.

Hall's car was apparently blocked in by an ambulance that had come to pick up the injured player so she caught a ride with Bell. The pair went to Taco Bueno and ate with several friends before dropping Bell's sister off at home.

Attempting to avoid the road construction on Judge Ely Boulevard, the pair apparently took Griffith Road to return to Elmer Gray Stadium to retrieve Hall's car. Unfortunately, they never made it.

Hall, who was born in Marion, Va., moved to Abilene in December 1989 and began attending Abilene Christian in the fourth grade. She was a member of the Drama Club, first chair in the band and a member of the yearbook staff.

Born in Irving, Bell moved to Abilene as a youngster and had attended Abilene Christian since kindergarten. An athlete, Bell was an active member of the volleyball, basketball and track teams.

"These kids were well-known and well-liked," said Steve Cunningham, executive director of Abilene Christian. "It's a real tragedy in a school of our size because of the community feeling we have."

"Those losses are great and the feelings run deep. The families are just heartbroken and devastated. We're never prepared for these things."

In trying to deal with Friday's sudden tragedy, the school held a student-led devotional service in memory of Hall and Bell Saturday night.

Counselors will meet with teachers today to help them deal with their own pain and to assist them in dealing with grieving students, Hoffman said.

The counselors will also be there Monday. Abilene Christian officials said students will be let out at 11 p.m. so they can attend the two funerals.

Services for Hall will be at 1 p.m. Monday at Hillcrest Church of Christ. Burial will be at the Garden of Memories. Visitation will be from 2-4 p.m. at Elliot-Hamil Funeral Homes, 542 Hickory.

Hall is survived by father and stepmother, Stuart and Hope Parker Hall of Abilene; her mother, Janey Hall; a brother, Bradley Stuart Hall and two sisters, Erin Parker Hall and Margaret Ashley Hall.

Services for Bell will be at 4 p.m. Monday at Hillcrest and burial will follow at the Garden of Memories. She is survived by her parents, Joe and Jane Bell and one sister, Erin Bell.

Memorials for both Bell and Hall may be given to the Abilene Christian Schools, 2550 North Judge Ely Blvd., Abilene 79601.

All content copyright 1996, Tanya Eiserer,The Abilene Reporter-News and Reporter OnLine


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