SALEM - Counselors assisted students and staff at Salem High School Monday as they mourned the loss of one of their own, 17-year-old junior Brittany Marie Gulu, who died from injuries in a car crash late Sunday.
"She's going to be missed a great deal," Principal Dr. Joe Shivers said.
He described her as a student who was popular among every segment of the school population, who was involved in a lot of different activities. She was in both band and choir, took part in school plays and the Salem Community Theatre, was a cheerleader and was involved in Project Support, a group of students helping students with special needs.
"She was capable of incredible acts of kindness," Shivers said.
According to the Highway Patrol, Gulu was driving a 2000 Volkswagen Beetle on Lisbon Road near St. Jacob-Logtown Road around 9:45 p.m. when the car slid off the road and struck a mailbox and a tree, then overturned.
Gulu was the only occupant of the vehicle and had been ejected during the crash, according to the patrol. She was taken to Salem Community Hospital by EMTs where she later was pronounced dead.
No other vehicles were involved, and alcohol was not a factor, the patrol said. The crash remains under investigation.
Shivers said Monday was a hard day, with a steady stream of students coming to see the school counselors throughout the day. The junior high counselor joined the high school counselors to talk with students and help them through their grief.
Two local pastors who had offered to help and two school psychologists were prepared to give their assistance if necessary.
Superintendent Tom Bratten said their thoughts were with Brittany's family and the district will do whatever it can to support them.
He said dealing with something like this is hard on the students and staff.
"We'll get through it the best we can," he said.
In November, the district was in mourning over the loss of 9-year-old hit-and-run victim Olivia Thompson, a fourth-grader at Reilly Elementary School.
"It's just awful," Bratten said.
Staff writer Katie Schwendeman contributed to this report