VIDEO: Beaufort High teens who died in crash remembered at memorial<span class="icon"> </span>

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VIDEO: Beaufort High teens who died in crash remembered at memorial<span class="icon"> </span>

By RACHEL HEATON
rheaton@beaufortgazette.com
Published Monday, April 23, 2012   |  692 Words  |  

Kayleeana Hudson-Banks was a dancer and a music lover, and she cared about animals so much that as a child she would hold funerals for mice.

Chelsie Teddie Nicole Pitruzzella was a sweet girl who spoke her mind and was someone you could always count on.

That is how family and friends remember the two Beaufort High School students who died in a one-car accident Saturday night on St. Helena Island. A 2009 Mitsubishi sedan driven by Pitruzzella veered off Seaside Road, overturned and struck a tree. A third passenger, Megan Trimmer, was injured. She was airlifted to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.

Pitruzzella, an 18-year-old senior, looked forward to graduating and moving to Arizona. She spoke often of traveling and hoped to see Paris, New York City -- just about anywhere.

"If I ever get the chance, I will do that for her," a friend named Tyra told the crowd of more than 100 gathered Monday night for a memorial for the two girls at Seaside Vineyard Fellowship.

Hudson-Banks, a 15-year-old sophomore, took dance classes at the school and at Beaufort Academy of Dance and Lowcountry School of Performing Arts. Known for her signature eyeliner -- including a heart drawn by her eye -- and bubbly smile, Kaylee would enter any room with a big hello and never hesitated to tell the girls around her how pretty they looked.

"You guys made such a big difference in her life," Mary Hudson, Hudson-Banks' stepmother, told the crowd. Hudson-Banks had moved to Beaufort in November to live with her dad, John Hudson, and Mary Hudson. She had lived in New York with her mother, Debra Banks.

"She got to have six months when she was really happy," Mary Hudson said. "She loved it here."

Mary Hudson said Trimmer told her she hopes to be out of the hospital Tuesday. Hospital officials have declined to release details on Trimmer's condition because she is a minor.

Lance Cpl. Brent Kelly of the S.C. Highway Patrol said the cause of the accident is still under investigation. All three girls were wearing seat belts, investigators said.

At Monday's memorial, friends told of two girls who cheered up everyone they came in contact with.

Pitruzzella had been legally adopted by Neil and Rebeca Pitruzzella of Lady's Island after living with the family, Neil Pitruzzella said.

Authorities identified her as Chelsie Faulk because that was the name on her driver's license, which had not been changed because of difficulties obtaining her birth certificate from another state, Neil Pitruzzella said.

"She was our child, and everybody in our family knew her and loved her," he said during a phone interview. "It felt like she had always been here, even though she was only with us for a few years."

When Chelsie joined the Pitruzzella family, she chose a new middle name, Teddie, in honor of her adoptive maternal grandfather, Theodore, said Neil Pitruzzella.

At Monday's vigil, friends gathered by candlelight around the Beaufort High flag pole to leave flowers. As the crowd began to sing "Amazing Grace," Chelsie's family came to the flag pole to leave mementos.

"Thank you for being here for my Chelsie," Rebeca Pitruzzella said through sobs.

A visitation for Chelsie Pitruzzella is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Copeland Funeral Service in Beaufort. Neil Pitruzzella said Chelsie loved the color red and encouraged visitation attendees to wear that color in her honor.

A visitation for family and friends of Hudson-Banks will be from 5 to 7 p.m. today at Copeland Funeral Service, according to obituary information.

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

Reporter Allison Stice contributed to this article.

Follow her at twitter.com/lcblotter.

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