Santrell L. Sweet, a guard and forward for the Lady Tigers at Harris County High School in Hamilton, was killed on her way to basketball practice in a two-vehicle collision Thursday on Highway 208, her father and the Georgia State Patrol said today.
Sweet, 17, of Ellerslie died in the crash about 11 a.m. after the 2001 Lincoln she was driving went out of control and collided with another vehicle, said her father Malvin Sweet, a retired Army 1st sergeant. A senior, Sweet was to graduate with honors in the spring and head to Georgia Southern University to major in nursing. The father said Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley delivered the news to him about 11:15 a.m. “Actually, the sheriff said it was a freak accident,” Sweet said. “Santrell’s vehicle was out of control sliding sidways and the other car hit it head on.” It had rained earlier in the area and the father noted the car just had a new set of tires installed. The air bag deployed, she was wearing a seat belt and her cell phone was still in her purse. “I just don’t know what happened,” he said.
Malvin who was home when his daughter left for practice recalled the last words he told her. “I watched her back out of the driveway and said I love ya and I’ll be at the house.”
The teen’s death was difficult for Malvin Sweet after his wife, Gladys “Loretha” Sweet, died at age 43 on Jan. 6 last year after battling cancer. He had told his daughter that she would have to bury him but he never thought a tragedy would strike her. “I never would believe it in a million years,” he said.
Sweet was a member of Central Baptist Church of Ellerslie where she sang in the choir, was a leader on the praise team and very active in the Youth Ministry.
She had played basketball since she was in the seventh-grade even though her father said she didn’t go outside much. But inside, she loved playing on the basketball court. The Lady Tigers game Saturday was canceled in honor of the fallen basketball player.
Funeral plans are incomplete but the father wants to have a service at Central next week. She will be buried beside her mother in Camilla, Ga., he said.