Students remember classmate killed in Durham car crash


There were hugs, and heavy hearts. The memory of an exceptional young man burned in their memories.

"Everybody at school was really hurt and crying in tears, and we were all there for each other and hugging each other," said Hillside High School junior Siera Marcus.

Marcus was among three Hillside juniors who organized a candlelight vigil to honor Tyreic Hemphill, whose positive influence infiltrated several Bull City high schools.

"I feel like we all learned that tomorrow isn't promised, and we shouldn't take anything for granted that we have and that we shouldn't hold grudges with people," said Hillside junior Brittney Chavis.

Police say Hemphill died last Friday when he lost control of his car and crossed the median. His car collided with another vehicle on N.C. Highway 55 near Riddle Road.

That's where many gathered Tuesday evening to pray and set up a memorial with a picture and the teen's favorite snack.

"We released balloons. We lit candles, and we prayed, and then we signed the pole," said Hillside junior Ciera Castillo. "we put a Honey Bun out by the cross."

Hemphill's cousin, Christian Silver, who is a junior at Southern Durham, said Tyreic was more like a brother he looked up to.

"This wasn't even supposed to happen," said Castillo. "Out of all people, he had so much to live for."

Hemphill was a lead counselor with the Emily K. Center. He was ranked in the top 10 percent of his class, and hoped to study engineering at Howard University. His accomplishments and what could have been make his death a significant loss for the community he leaves behind.

"It hurts us knowing that he couldn't make it that far," said Marcus," but then again, it pushes us to like do everything in his name."

Hemphill's funeral will be held Wednesday afternoon at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Durham.

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