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Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 9:26am

Georgia Southern Mourns Students Killed In I-16 Crash

UPDATE (8:53pm 4/23):
A decision on charges in the deadly Interstate 16 crash won't come soon. Sgt. 1st Class Chris Nease, commander of the State Patrol Post investigating the crash, said Thursday he expects it will take several months for his team assigned to reconstruct the deadly crash to complete its report. Tom Durden, the district attorney for Bryan County where the collision occurred, said crash investigations can be complicated because it's not always obvious whether crimes were committed.

Meanwhile, WSB-TV reports the trucking company whose driver was involved in the wreck had had numerous safety violations. The CEO of Total Transportation says the company is cooperating with investigators.

Students and faculty at Georgia Southern University are in mourning, following the death of five students in a multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 16 Wednesday. Flags are flying at half staff on the Statesboro campus, and a memorial will be held Thursday evening.

Emily Clark of Powder Springs, Morgan Bass of Leesburg, Abbie Deloach of Savannah, Catherine Pittman of Alpharetta and Caitlyn Baggett of Millen were all junior nursing students at Southern.They were on their way to a hospital in Savannah for their final clinical rotation of the school year.

The Georgia State Patrol says a tractor-trailer failed to slow down and smashed into stop-and-go traffic on I-16 that had backed up because of an earlier wreck. Three people also were injured in the crash.

"We are overwhelmed with grief at the loss of our students,” Georgia Southern Dean of Students Patrice Jackson told WTOC-TV in Savannah. “These were student leaders, these were members of student organizations, these were dedicated students in the school of nursing. So there are many, many members of our community that are hurting today."

Meanwhile, the Georgia State Patrol is still investigating the accident. "At this time, charges are still pending. We’re just getting started on it. We’re still piecing together everything that happened,” GSP Sgt. First Class Chris Nease tells the Savannah Morning News.