Schools offer counseling in wake of student death

Staff Report

Even though school is not yet in session, North Surry High School and the Surry County School system is working to offer counseling services to its students after one of their peers was killed in an incident over the weekend.

Ernesto Medoza Garcia, 17, of Galloway Street, Mount Airy, died after being struck by a minivan just north of Old Buck Shoals Road late Saturday night. He and his cousin, whose name authorities have not released, were walking along U.S. 52 near Skyline Memory Gardens, according to John Shelton, Surry County Emergency Services director.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Ernesto’s family and many friends. Please join us in surrounding them with prayers, love, and support in the days to come,” the school system said in a written statement.

Director of Communications Tracey H. Lewis said that while school is not yet in session, the school system will have counselors available during the scheduled Tuesday open house at North Surry High School, where Ernesto was about to begin his senior year.

“We will have counselors available to any students on an as-needed basis,” between now and the start of school, scheduled for Aug. 27. She said students, or parents of students, who would like to avail themselves of the services should call North Surry High School.

Lewis said Monday morning that Principal Paige Badgett and other representatives from the school system would be visiting with Ernesto’s family Monday afternoon.

“We want to be responsive to the family, and support them in any way possible,” she said a few hours before the visit. “It is important for us to extend our condolences and sympathy in person, let the families know we are there for them.”

Lewis said Ernesto did not have any siblings still in the school system.

The N.C. Highway Patrol stated that the victim had a cousin with him at the time of the incident Saturday, and the trooper investigating the scene spoke to the cousin, whose identity they have not released. The witness said he was walking along the edge of the grass, and Ernesto was beside him on the pavement of the northbound lane.

No charges have been filed against the minivan driver.

The Highway Patrol stated that Ernesto was wearing dark clothing, plus there was some fog. Also, the road peaks above the cemetery, then drops down toward the city limits, 0.4 miles away. The driver of a vehicle cresting the hill wouldn’t have seen what was below the line of sight.

The trooper reported that the driver of the minivan, whose identity has not been released, did volunteer to show his cell phone to prove he wasn’t talking or texting at the time. It was an older flip phone, not a smart phone, so texting and calling is about all that model can do, the officer stated, and it had not been used.

Teen was struck, killed while walking Saturday night

Staff Report