Breaking News
More () »

Macon mother, two children die in south Ga. wreck

A community is still mourning the loss of a Macon family killed in a car crash over the weekend.

A community is still mourning the loss of a Macon family killed in a car crash over the weekend.

One victim was a student at Heritage Elementary School. Her classmates are now just trying to make sense of it all.

According to the Georgia State Patrol, it happened around 7 p.m. Saturday in Miller County. That's south of Albany. Their report says the family's Lincoln Navigator hydroplaned on a wet stretch of road on Highway 91.

It spun around, and flipped over into a ditch.

"Whenever we would look back I would always look back and see Zhia writing and she would always hold her pencil like that," says second grader Jadyn Lee.

"Zhia is always silly. She'd always tell me about her little brother. Then she'd always be always clumsy," says student Naima Brew.

The victims were Tina Marie Butler, age 30; her daugher Zhia Franklin, age 7; and her year-old son, Marcus Oates Jr. Her husband Marcus Oates was driving. He survived the wreck.

The state patrol report says Oates was driving too fast for conditions.

"It feels as if I've lost one of my own children. I come in to count everyday and when we finally decided it was time to start work again I went to make my copies for my 27 students and now i only have 26," says Zhia's teacher Tamara Young.

The principal, Jennifer Askew, says staff from the Bibb County school district came to talk to the children.

"A few that were crying continued to cry but then a few children started raising their hands and they were talking about the sweet things...that she was kind, she was funny, she was friendly," says Askew.

Now the students are choosing to remember all the good moments with their friend Zhia.

"I still feel like that little girl with the rolling book bag and the big toothy grin and carrying her lunch box is going to come walking in...," says Young.

For now Zhia's desk is just the way she left it.

Students at Heritage Elementary School say they are going to leave Zhia Franklin's desk just the way she left it.

On April 13th the students at Heritage Elementary are planning to release pink and purple balloons, Zhia's favorite colors, in her honor.

Also the Mid-South Credit Union has started an account for her family to raise money for their funeral funds. The group has already donated $500.