HENRY COUNTY, Ga. - Grief counselors are helping Henry County middle school students deal with the sudden loss of a classmate.
Fourteen-year-old Chandler Weems died after a police patrol car hit him over the weekend. Witnesses said the eighth-grader was riding a bicycle and darted out of a driveway on North Ola Road. Channel 2 Action News confirmed he wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time.
Channel 2’s Sophia Choi was there Monday as students arrived at Ola Middle School, where Weems was a student. Grief counselors are on hand at the school to help with the mourning process. Weems was killed just down the street from the school.
People who knew him said he was a typical teenager who often rode his bike around his Henry County home.
“It was traumatic for me, even having a medical background to see that,” neighbor Ron Jackson told Channel 2’s Ashley Swann.
Jackson was one of the first to run to help the teen moments after the crash.
“It is part of a bad area right there with the trees,” Jackson told Swann. “I just don’t feel like there’s any way (the officer) could have prevented that.”
Jackson said he and the officer, identified as 35-year-old Denise Ramano, did all they could to help the teen, but he died early Sunday at an Atlanta hospital.
“It’s really tough,” said Jackson. “(He was) such a sweet kid. We just had him over last weekend for a birthday party here.”
Neighbors said Weems and his friends were on their way to another birthday party when the accident occurred.
“I know everybody around here has been affected by it,” Jackson said.
Chris Popp’s stepson, Bryce, was close with Weems.
“He was definitely a good kid,” Popps told Swann. “I know he’ll never be forgotten with Bryce. I know that Bryce will always remember him.”
He said he and the community’s prayers are with the Weems family and the officer involved.
“I can’t imagine how they feel right now,” said Popps. “My heart goes out to her, just as much as Chandler’s family, too.”
Ramano is on leave pending the outcome of the Georgia State Patrol’s investigation. On Sunday, Chandler’s family put a message on his Facebook page thanking the community for their thoughts and prayers, and asking for privacy.