Five Anderson County teens were involved in a fatality accident early Sunday, May 21 in Smith County.
According to Sgt. Adam Albritton, public information officer for the Department of Public Safety, said the one-car accident, involving a 2017 Nissan Altima, happened around 3 a.m. six miles west of Tyler on FM 2661.
Sgt. Adam Albritton said the preliminary investigation indicates the Nissan Altima driven by Raven Clewis, was traveling north on FM 2661 when the car left the road and hit a tree. Three individuals were killed and three were injured in the accident.
Driver Raven Clewis, 19, of Dallas, Ju’Mija Clewis, 17, of Elkhart and Sherie Butler, 17 of Palestine were all pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace James Meredith. It is not known if these individuals were wearing a seatbelt.
Passengers Jaylah Spurlock, 17, Brianna Price, 17, and Chimsi Okonkwo, 16, all of Palestine were all transported to a Tyler hospital.
Larissa Loveless, public information officer for Palestine Independent School, said two of the fatalities from the accident were Palestine High School students, a 2023 senior and a student in the 11th grade.
“It is with great sadness Palestine ISD shares the loss of PHS students students Ju’Mija Clewis and Sheriee Butler," Loveless said. "Ju’Mija graduated with the class of 23, and Sheriee had completed her junior year at PHS. Please remember their families in your prayers as they move through this difficult time."
PISD Basketball Coach Daniel Nichols shared fond memories of two of his dedicated players who perished in the accident.
"Both Ju'Mija and Sheriee both had so much personality and competitiveness that they brought to our program,” Nichols said. “Ju’Mija was committed to having a memorable senior year giving her time and dedication to Palestine High School. She was a good friend, and her teammates can attest to that. She fought through a lot of struggles this year, and she never complained; she never stopped being herself and played an important role that helped our team have the success we did.”
Nichols said Sheriee was the ultimate teammate, and very unselfish.
“She wanted to start, but was willing to take whatever role was needed for team success,” Nichols said. “She always celebrated her teammates' successes as well. She was motivated to be her best on the court, and in the classroom. We just spoke about how she was nervous being one of the go-to players on our team next year. Her and Bri had already created a plan this summer of what we can work on together to help them be more confident in a bigger role. These are two beautiful young ladies that need to be celebrated as much as we can.”
This accident is still under investigation by DPS.
A student-lead candle light vigil is being held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 24 in front of Palestine High School.
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