Crash victims remembered by classmates

Boy, 17, and girl, 13, were struck by SUV on dark road

This is Michael Perry:


Mikey, as he was known, was a skateboarder, big into video games, friends with everybody, always upbeat.

"He always knew how to make you laugh," said his aunt, Sabrina Herndon.

This is Sarah Riffe:

She loved her iPod, stayed on Facebook constantly, a performer who sang and danced at talent shows.

"She was your typical energetic teenager," said her father, Steven Riffe.

Together they were friends, at one time more than friends, but always together. That's how they died Wednesday night when they were hit by a Jeep Cherokee as they walked in the 4800 block of McCombs Road in rural Hephzibah.

Steven Riffe spent Thursday afternoon making two crosses to mark the spot where the wreck occurred. With the support of family and friends, he placed the crosses beside the road as a reminder to all who passed.

"Sometimes that peace comes over you and you know that she's with God," he said. "But then again, you're going to miss your baby."

On March 15, Sarah would have celebrated her 14th birthday. The family had planned a trip to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta to celebrate with the Pine Hill Middle School eighth-grader.

Late Thursday afternoon, Mikey's friends gathered outside Hephzibah High School for a candlelight vigil. With a golden sun setting at their backs, they greeted one another with hugs and tears and talked about the 17-year-old.

Tyler Walker described his last conversation with Mikey in a school hallway. Mikey looked Tyler straight in the eye and said, "I love you. I'll see you when I get back."

Tyler is glad he took the time to return the hug.

"I look at him like a brother," he said.

The wreck took place about 8 p.m. when 20-year-old William Shore rounded a curve and hit the two teens. Richmond County sheriff's Capt. Scott Gay said the two victims and two other teens were standing between the white and yellow lines on the road, but not side by side.

The survivors gave conflicting accounts of whether they were standing in the middle of the road or crossing it, Gay said. The two-lane country road near McBean has no streetlights, and the teens weren't carrying flashlights or wearing reflective clothing.

The posted speed limit is 40 mph, but investigators were unsure Thursday what speed Shore was driving.

Shore was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

The Georgia State Patrol is investigating the wreck, and it's expected to be several weeks before a decision is made on whether charges will be brought against Shore.

Sarah's parents said they didn't blame Shore for the accident that killed their daughter.

"He's got to live with this for a long time," Steven Riffe said as he stood on the side of McCombs Road on Thursday afternoon. "I wouldn't want to be in his shoes, either. No one sets out to run someone's kids down."

Sarah leaves behind two sisters, ages 7 and 15.

"Kristina's young right now, so she does understand what death is, but it hasn't hit her yet," her father said of Sarah's 7-year-old sister. "But her older sister is distraught."

Pine Hill Middle School had not planned a memorial Thursday. Principal Glenda Collingsworth said she was waiting to speak with the family before making plans.

At the vigil Thursday night, Taylor Stewart recalled good times spent with Sarah, including an Independence Day celebration at Fort Gordon "looking up at fireworks and acting crazy."

"I know Sarah is in a better place," Taylor said, holding back tears. "I just wish she was here."