|Birth: ||Mar. 25, 1994|
|Death: ||Dec. 7, 2010|
Jewett City - Sativa "Tiva" Elizabeth Cornell, 16, of North Main St., passed away Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010.
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She was born on March 25, 1994, in Westerly, daughter to Eugene Cornell of Norwich and Gina Elizabeth (Pelletier) Cornell of Jewett City.
Sativa was a student at Griswold High School where she played softball, volleyball, and track-shot put. She rode dirt bikes since the age of 7. Her favorite place was on Beach Pond. She loved to cook and spend time with her family and friends.
Besides her parents, she is survived by her brother, Ty Eugene Cornell of Jewett City, her paternal grandfather, David Thomas Cornell Sr. of Mystic, and her maternal grandmother, Margaret Pelletier of Westerly.
She was predeceased by her grandparents, Robert Pelletier and Sandra Cornell.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Gagne-Piechowski Funeral Home, 490 Voluntown Road, Route 13, Jewett City. Interment will follow in Robbins Cemetery, Voluntown. Calling hours will be 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday.
Griswold — Hundreds of people turned out Wednesday night to the park in the heart of Griswold to mourn the deaths the afternoon before of four teenagers in a car accident on Route 201. One boy remains in critical condition.
First Selectman Philip Anthony said to those gathered at the vigil, "The beauty of this town is that we're family. As each family grieves tonight, they are not alone. And will never be alone. This town will be involved to help these families along."
Anthony said he could not remember an accident on any town road that was more tragic than Tuesday's accident.
"This is an exceptional tragedy," he said. "We are a small town of 12,000. We are a town officially in mourning. When something like this happens it impacts every single one of us."
Anthony said Route 201 is a state road that he believes is properly maintained. He did say, however, that it is a narrow, windy road that could be difficult to navigate.
Superintendent of Schools Paul Freeman said this afternoon that the school day was going "as well as could be expected." He said students were taking advantage of the grief counselors, meeting in small groups. Students are also being allowed to talk amongst themselves.
At the end of the school day, students leaving Griswold High School said the day had been quiet and sad; with "just trying to be there for each other," as one student put it.
State police this morning released the identities of the four Griswold High School students who were killed Tuesday afternoon in the car crash on Route 201.
The deceased are: John Clapper, 16, of 23 Hillview Heights; Sativa Cornell, 16, of 301 Sam Chikan Road; Steven Szklarz, 15, of 786 Route 12, and Dillon Clifford, 16, of 8 Fairview Ave.
Joel Gallup, 16, of 31 Woodcrest Drive, was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he is listed in critical condition.
Police said John Clapper was driving the 2007 Nissan Altima before it struck two trees. The car is registered to Gina Pelletier, who has the same address as Cornell.
According to DMV records, Clapper received a learner's permit Aug. 10. Cornell received her license Oct. 26. Neither have any driving violations.
Someone with a learner's permit is only allowed to have as passengers a parent, driving instructor or adult 20 years of older who has had a license for four consecutive years.
During the first six months of having a license, passengers, with the exception of certain qualified adults, are not allowed in the car, and for the second six months only one additional passenger is allowed in the car and that has to be an immediate family member.
Cornell and Clapper were dating for nearly two years, according to Clapper's MySpace page.
His page also makes mention of wanting to become a member of the U.S. Marine Corps., because he said it is, "a duty to my family and the people i love. to keep them at home and safe."
He liked to ride four wheelers, motorcycles and had a strong interest in cars and how they operate. He was also a member of the Wolverine football team, according to his MySpace page.
His sister, Jennifer Clapper, wrote on the Facebook memorial page late Tuesday night saying, "tonight we gained some angels. tonight, my heart broken into an immeasurable amount of pieces. my life will never be the same without that beacon of light that was my baby bropiece. I am still waiting to wake up and talk to him and it's just not happening."
Junior Zach Wood, who grew up playing youth baseball with Dillon Clifford, recalled him as loud and free-spirited.
"He wasn't afraid to say anything," added another friend, Greg Welch, also a junior.
"It still hasn't really settled in yet. It's just like they're absent or something…" Welch said. "There are a lot of memories. It's too long to sum it all up."
Bev Cholewa, who lives next door to the Cliffords, said Clifford was the couple's only child.
"It's just tragic that happened to our little community," she said. "News travels quick in a small town. I don't want people to assume this happened because they were young, or that they were reckless. We don't know what happened."
Ryan Aubin, director of Youth and Family Services and Park and Recreation, said state police contacted him Tuesday night to help identify the victims.
He said police gave him names so he could help locate their families. The teens involved in the crash did not go to the youth center.
"It wasn't a good day for Griswold," he said. "We have staff who will mentor and talk to our kids if they need it."
Aubin said the center has posters that talk about accident rates that involve texting and driving. The center also has pamphlets on safe driving that it passes out.
"We try to give them as much information as possible," he said Aubin.
The accident marks a week where the state is promoting "Teen Safe Driving Awareness," which runs through Saturday.
The state in 2009 saw a 62 percent reduction in fatal crashes involving this age group of drivers when examining a 12-year average since 1997.
Sad day at high school
The mood was somber at Griswold High School this morning.
The news that four students were killed and one was seriously injured has shaken the small, tight-knit school.
"It was very quiet in the hallways," said Freeman, the superintendent. "There was an obvious depth of sadness that could be felt throughout the school this morning."
Freeman said teachers started arriving at the school around 5 a.m. to prepare and strategize for the day. Grief counselors are on hand today and for as long as school officials feel they are necessary.
"Our focus today will be to get students through this day," he said. "There are 750 students in the high school. We are a small high school. When five students are involved it affects everybody."
Freeman said school lets out at 2:30 p.m., two hours before the accident happened.
"I don't know what they were doing," said Freeman. "I don't believe they were involved in any school activities at the time."
Students appeared saddened as they walked from the parking lot into the high school. Even groups of students walked together in silence.
As soon as news of the crash occurred, students started to text and Facebook each other. Several memorial pages have been set up on the social networking site.
"I don't know how it's going to be in there today," said Bret Fensley, a senior. "It's going to be rough. Everyone knew them."
Tyler Swinyer, also a senior, said students were wearing "Griswold Green" to show their support for the students and their families. He was wearing a green shirt.
"Everyone is going to be a complete wreck," said Swinyer. "We are a small school and everybody pretty much knows each other."
Swinyer's friend cried as Swinyer spoke.
Police said the students were in the car heading south when the driver apparently lost control and struck two trees.
Investigators are trying to determine whether speed, alcohol and/or distracted driving were factors in the crash, which happened around 4:40 p.m.
State police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said three victims were pronounced dead at the scene, and a fourth teenager was declared dead at The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich.
The accident scene is 5.2 miles from the high school. At the scene this morning, plastic shards were embedded in a tree and the bark peeled back several layers. The base of another tree was cracked.
Wires were dangling from several branches. Blue surgical gloves lay on the side of the road.
Pink fluorescent spray paint used by the CARS team- Collision Analysis Reconstruction Squad - marked the road were there were tire treads.
State police came back briefly today to the accident scene and closed the road for several minutes to take more pictures.
By late afternoon, balloons were tied to the tree and flowers rested against it as cars drove by.
New London County
Created by: Bettie
Record added: Dec 13, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62897750