HANCOCK COUNTY -- Students and faculty at Hancock County High are mourning the loss of two recent graduates killed Sunday night in a two-vehicle crash in the Lakeshore community.
Aja Crawford and Lauren Bailey were both 20 years old, said Coroner Jim Faulk, who released their names Monday.
News of their deaths also was posted on the school's website. It said:
"It is with great sadness that we offer our condolences for the loss of two of our recent graduates, Aja Crawford and Lauren Bailey. These two young ladies will be remembered for their talents in the performing arts, zest for life, beauty, and intelligence. Forever in our hearts, in loving memory, may they rest in peace."
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English teacher Amanda Pidgeon said it's sad news even though the women are no longer on campus. They both graduated in 2013.
"The school cares," Pidgeon said.
As students, she said, the girls were close friends, with Crawford the outgoing one and Bailey the quieter one.
Crawford will be remembered in part for her theatre work and performances in school plays.
Pidgeon said she knew Crawford the best because she taught her 10th grade English and interacted with her through the rest of her high school years.
"Aja was beautiful, extremely intelligent and outspoken in a way that high school students usually are not," Pidgeon said.
"She did not mind sharing her opinion and would give information to back it up, and she didn't do it in a rude way," Pidgeon said.
"If you were having a sad day, she would cheer you up. If you were being stupid, she would tell you to stop."
Crawford had worked at the Diary Queen in Diamondhead.
"She often asked if my boyfriend was going 'to put a ring' on my finger," Pidgeon said. "When he did, my first thought was to show Aja. She was a great kid."
Family friends said the young women had moved to Hattiesburg to attend college. It wasn't immediately clear if they were currently enrolled in classes.
Friends said the car was packed with their clothes and they were taking a cat to visit a friend. The cat also was killed in the accident.
Sheriff's officials said Bailey was driving when the crash occurred on Lower Bay Road near 24th Street about 9:20 p.m. Sunday.
Chief Deputy Don Bass said Bailey apparently lost control of the car on a sharp curve and the car veered into oncoming traffic. The car crossed in front of a pickup, and the vehicles collided.
Bass said the Jaws of Life were used to get the women out of the car.
"It took quite a while to get them extracted from the vehicle," he said.
The driver of the truck did not have any serious injuries, Bass said.
The Hancock County Sheriff's Office is continuing its investigation.