CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Va. -- Two girls were killed on their way to school Wednesday morning when their vehicle plunged off a bridge and into the Willis River in Cumberland County.
The girls, ages 16 and 14, were found inside the vehicle when it was removed from the water Wednesday afternoon, hours after the crash.
Michaela and Tyauna Woodson were killed in the wreck, officials with Cumberland County Public Schools confirmed.
"These two beautiful young ladies were a big part of the Cumberland County Public Schools family as they excelled in academics and participated in extracurricular activities such as softball and cheerleading," Cumberland County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Chip Jones wrote in a statement.
Jones said grief counselors will be on hand at Cumberland High School throughout the week.
Community at a loss
News of the accident quickly spread in the tightknit community.
Margaret Nucklos said she picked her son up from school early because her family was so shaken by the loss.
“It’s a tragedy any time you lose a child. And to lose these girls on their way to school," Nucklos said. "Everybody’s more or less dumbfounded. It’s hard to believe. The kids at school have been texting and calling parents all day long.”
Car swept under
The river level was high at the time of the crash, so it went undetected and the girls were not reported missing until they failed to show up at school, according to relatives who gathered at the crash scene.
"A vehicle traveling along Bonbrook Road ran off the road and into the Willis River. Due to the recent, heavy rains, the river is swollen and the vehicle was quickly swept under the water," a Virginia State Police spokesperson said. "The Virginia State Police Search and Recovery Team (SRT) divers responded to the scene and located the submerged vehicle in the river shortly before 2 p.m. There are two confirmed bodies inside the vehicle."
State Police responded to the crash scene at about 9:09 a.m.
The crash remains under investigation.
This is a developing story. Witnesses can send news tips and photos here.
Friends of the young victims can submit memories and condolences here.