Garland teens killed in Oklahoma crash were bound for new life

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on November 26, 2012 at 7:45 PM

GARLAND -- A Garland middle school is mourning the loss of two teenage students, who were killed in a head-on collision in Oklahoma.

The siblings and their mother had been living with their great grandmother in Garland, and were on their way to a new home in Missouri when the accident happened. Family members say they are shocked and heartbroken.

Dorothy Whitaker said her granddaughter, Erin Sanderson, and four great grandchildren had just left her house, bound for Missouri. They had been living with her for the last six years. A few hours later, she received a call with horrific news.

"And she said, 'Mom, Syrrena was killed,'" Whitaker said. "And I said, 'No.' She didn't know about Drake at the time."

The children's mother saw the accident. She was in a rental truck with their belongings and one child. Her other three kids were in George Willis' Ford Mustang. Oklahoma troopers say they were on US Highway 60 near Wyandotte when the Mustang suddenly veered left and struck another car, head-on.

Willis, 13-year-old Syrrena Sanderson and 14-year-old Drake Cobb were killed. Seven-year-old Maryssa Sanderson is in serious condition with head, leg and internal injuries. Two people in the other car also died in the crash.

"I’m numb right now," said Gene Whitaker, the children’s great uncle. "It's hard to describe."

Drake and Syrrena attended Garland ISD's Jackson Math and Science Magnet School.

"Drake was quiet, but he was the most gentle person you ever met at 14 years old," Mrs. Whitaker said. "And Syrrena was a smart girl. She's been on the A/B honor roll twice in a row."

The principal and counselors at Jackson met with classmates Monday and sent a letter home to parents.

"It's tragic anytime you deal with the loss of young people like this," said Chris Moore, Garland ISD Communications Director. "It's extremely unfortunate. So we are supporting the students, their families and the staff as much as we can."

Dorothy Whitaker said it broke her heart when her great grandchildren left for Missouri. But she says she never imagined it would be the last time she ever saw two of them.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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