Eagle Nation Mourns

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They were special—five Georgia Southern University students whose compassionate nature led them to reach out to help others. They found their calling in nursing, but their dreams ended suddenly on April 22. The nursing students—all juniors—lost their lives in a multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 16 in Bryan County. It was the last day of their first set of clinical training caring for patients at St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital in Savannah.

The students lost that day were Caitlyn Baggett from Millen, Georgia, Morgan Bass from Leesburg, Georgia, Emily Clark of Powder Springs, Georgia, Abbie Deloach of Savannah, and Catherine Pittman from Alpharetta, Georgia. Fellow nursing students Brittney McDaniel of Reidsville, Georgia, and Megan Richards of Loganville, Georgia, were injured in the crash. The students, traveling in two separate vehicles, were stuck in backed-up traffic on the interstate. According to a Georgia State Patrol preliminary report, a tractor-trailer following too closely smashed into one of the vehicles.

“The loss of any student, especially in a tragic way, is particularly painful,” said University President Brooks A. Keel, Ph.D., in a heartfelt statement. “Losing five students is almost incomprehensible.”

The Georgia Southern community has honored their memory in different ways. The day after the tragedy, the University flag was flown at half-staff and a candlelight vigil drew thousands of people to Sweetheart Circle in an outpouring of love and support. In his emotional remarks, Keel called Eagle Nation a family and urged everyone to remember our fallen Eagles. “Hold on to that love. Hold on to that support, Eagle Nation. Hold on to each other,” he said.

A board was set up for people to write and post notes about the nursing students for others to read. School of Nursing Chair Sharon Radzyminski said the students were everything that a nurse at Georgia Southern could represent and that we should be extremely proud to have known them.

The School of Nursing Students’ Memorial Fund has been established to honor the five nursing students. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu/memorial to make a gift to the Fund.

By all accounts, the five accident victims were gifted with a generous spirit and they exuded unconditional love.

THE LIVES WE LOST

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Pictured from left to right: Caitlyn Baggett, Morgan Bass, Emily Clark, Abbie Deloach and Catherine (McKay) Pittman

21-year-old Caitlyn Baggett planned to become a pediatric nurse. Many of the people in the small town of Millen knew her and loved her big personality. Her friends and family say she wasn’t one to keep quiet. She loved being around kids and wanted to be a nurse since she was very young.

20-year-old Morgan Bass was creative and could have pursued a career in fashion, interior design or even journalism; however, the straight-A student who loved pink lipstick never wavered from her own goal. She loved working with babies and wanted to become a nurse anesthetist. After finishing high school in Leesburg, near Albany, Georgia, she enrolled at Georgia Southern and joined Alpha Omicron Pi sorority and the nursing program.

20-year-old Emily Clark graduated with honors from Harrison High School in Cobb County, Georgia. Family and friends say she was thoughtful, intelligent, loved helping people and was dedicated to her church and sorority. Clark was on the executive council of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. Family members say they are hurting but the pain is “eased with the joy she gave while here on Earth.”

The father of 21-year-old Abbie Deloach says his daughter was a compassionate person who always knew how to comfort others. She lettered in basketball, volleyball and track at Savannah Christian Preparatory School. At Georgia Southern, she joined Kappa Delta Sorority, a legacy she shared with her mother. Deloach was on the homecoming step team and she played many intramural sports. The people who knew her best say she could light up a room.

21-year-old Catherine (McKay) Pittman graduated from Milton High School in suburban Atlanta. McKay, as she was known by her loved ones, was a Southern Ambassador and president of Alpha Delta Chi sorority. Her friends say she was hardworking, determined and could be the life of the party as well as being the voice of reason. She chose nursing because of her strong desire to help others. Her sorority sisters say McKay was loved by many and will be remembered always.

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