'Difficult days'

Northwood mourns the death of three students

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Update: This story has been updated from its original version to include information regarding the incident involving Tony Keck.

PITTSBORO — Three Northwood High School students — Christian Poteat Jr., Tony Keck and Cassandra Sibrian — died in separate accidents within the span of a week, Chatham County Schools officials confirmed.

“Northwood has experienced several difficult days with the deaths of three students in the past week,” read a statement released by CCS. “Last Thursday (June 16), Christian Poteat, a 2022 graduate, died in an accidental drowning. On Tuesday (June 21), Cassandra Sibrian, a sophomore, was killed in a car accident and (Thursday, June 23) night, Tony Keck, a freshman, was hit by a car and died while riding his ATV.”

On June 23, Robert Deatherage, of Durham, was in his Toyota Tacoma truck and attempted to pass Keck on a portion of the road on Alex Cockman Road designated as a passing zone for northbound traffic, the State Highway Patrol said. Keck was struck when he traveled into Deatherage’s path. Deatherage was not charged in the incident.

Keck's family has requested for donations to be made in his name to the Tony Lee Keck Memorial Fund at Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church.

There have now been five deaths in the Northwood community in the course of just a few months.

“These three students, and the two we lost in the fall, have left a huge hole in the Northwood family,” said Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson said in a statement. “We mourn the loss of bright futures, friendships and family that these students had. Please reach out for help if you need it during this sorrowful time.”

Northwood Principal Dr. Braford Walston echoed Jackson’s call for empathy and community support during this time.

“I am concerned about helping our Northwood family through this,” Walston said. “To lose so many of our family in a year is incredibly difficult. There are supports in place for anyone who needs them. Please reach out.”

Poteat Jr.’s funeral service was held in Roxboro last Friday afternoon. According to the funeral home, Sibrian’s visitation was the same day. Keck’s services were held Sunday.

“All of these students attended Chatham County Schools throughout their school careers so we know that these students have touched the lives of many of you,” a CCS statement said. “We are also a family that feels the grief at the loss of any of our children. Understanding the difficulty of the moment we wanted to reach out to each of you.”

The district said social workers have been on the campus of Northwood High School to help students and community members grieve and process the traumatic events.

CCS employees also have access to the Employee Assistance Program. EAP is a company-sponsored benefit that offers the support and resources needed to address personal or work-related challenges and concerns. It’s confidential and free to all employees and their household family members.

EAP is available 24/7/365 as a free and confidential service. To seek assistance, call 800-633-3353 or visit mygroup.com

“We appreciate your kindness, thoughts and prayers for our Northwood school and these students who may have touched your lives as they journeyed to high school,” CCS officials said. “While the moment is difficult, please take comfort in knowing that as a Chatham County Schools family we will continue to love and support all of our students and each other moving forward. Take care of yourselves. Be well.”

Reporter Ben Rappaport can be reached at brappaport@chathamnr.com or on Twitter @b_rappaport

Northwood, Chatham County Schools, education, Christian Poteat Jr., Tony Keck, Cassandra Sibrian


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