Community raises money after fatal accident, students relocate to Valley

Published 8:00 am Friday, September 15, 2023

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A community across state lines has rallied together to support three Ranburne High School students after they were in a fatal car crash on Sept. 9.

LaGrange native Heather Martin, 36, her two daughters and fellow Ranburne High School student Makayla Hooks were on their way to their homecoming dance when they were in a car accident.

At approximately 5:40 p.m. ET, Georgia State Patrol responded to a fatal car accident on GA-166 east of Forest Hill Road. Martin’s vehicle traveled off the south edge of the roadway, striking a mailbox and a ditch, according to a preliminary report from Georgia Department of Safety. 

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Martin was pronounced deceased at the scene. Her daughters, Madison and Aubrey, and Hooks were transported to Egleston Children Hospital in Atlanta, according to the report.

According to the girls’ high school band director Kevin Dunham, the Martin sisters were released from the hospital on Monday. 

Martin’s daughters are living with her sister in Valley right now. Jennifer Hunt, their aunt, is on the Board of Education for Chambers County.

Hooks will have to undergo several surgeries before she will be able to leave the hospital. Dunham set up GoFundMe pages for the three students to help support them and their families. 

The Martin sisters’ GoFundMe page has already reached almost $9,500. The GoFundMe page for Hooks has reached over $4,000.

Dunham provided a statement to the VTN.

“It has been so amazing to see the community rally behind these girls during this tragedy. Ranburne is such a special place full of loving, caring, and Godly people. I cannot thank you all enough for all of the support that you have shown during this awful time,” he said. “To everyone outside of Ranburne that donated without even knowing the girls who were just so moved by the story, God bless you.”

According to Dunham, the Martin girls recently lost their father, Brandon Martin. He passed away three weeks before the car accident. 

“Losing one parent is hard enough, but losing both so close to one another,” Dunham said in the GoFundMe post. “These girls will need our help in every aspect possible.”

The vehicle became airborne, rotated in the air and overturned. It struck a power pole and came to a stop. The driver, Martin, and two juvenile passengers were ejected from the vehicle. 

Martin succumbed to her injuries at the scene. State troopers determined that she likely suffered a seizure at the time of the accident.

Both Madison and Aubrey suffered minor lacerations. Aubrey underwent surgery for a road rash but is able to walk. 

According to her page, Hooks was one of the three passengers to be ejected from the vehicle. She was airlifted to the hospital with severe injuries. She had surgery on her wrist on Tuesday in which doctors repaired three tendons. 

She was scheduled to undergo surgery on her broken pelvis on Thursday. In the coming days, she was also scheduled to receive facial surgery due to a broken jaw. 

Hooks is a color guard student at Ranburne High School. Hooks has a GoFundMe page set up for her recovery as well as a wish list of items to help her during her stay in the hospital.

“To the girls, I am so proud of each of you for your spirit through this tragedy. All three of you are strong, far beyond imagination,” Dunham said.