GAINESVILLE — Students and faculty from North Central Texas College gathered with members of the Gainesville community Sunday in mourning at a candlelight vigil for the students involved in a bus crash that killed four students.

GAINESVILLE — Students and faculty from North Central Texas College gathered with members of the Gainesville community Sunday in mourning at a candlelight vigil for the students involved in a bus crash that killed four students.


"This evening is a special time to remember four young women who were tragically taken," said NCTC President Brent Wallace.


Members of the NCTC softball team were travelling south on Interstate 35 near Davis, Okla. when the team’s bus was struck by a semi-truck that had crossed the median just after 9 p.m. on Friday, according to a report from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.


Four players — Jaiden Pelton, 20, of Telephone; Katelynn Woodlee, 18, of Windom; Brooke Deckard, 20, of Blue Ridge; and Meagan Richardson, 19, 0f Wylie, were all killed. The 11 remaining team members and coach Van Hedrick were all hospitalized. By Sunday evening, all but two had been released from the hospital, Wallace said.


"Tonight we gather not only to remember, but to show true solidarity and our commitment to the families affected by such a loss," Wallace said. "We also stand united as a community, a college, a family to continue to stand beside the Lady Lions still recuperating and soon to return, we hope. …


"It is times like these we can see the tremendous impact a single life can have on this world."


Among the several hundred in attendance were members of the Texas Wesleyan Rams softball team. The NCTC Lady Lions were scheduled to play the Rams later this week. The team said they wanted to show their support for the players at NCTC.


"We kinda relate to them," said Texas Wesleyan softball player Amber Marlett, "We travel a lot on this exact same roadway."


"It is crazy to think it could have happened to us," said Texas Wesleyan Senior Kendall Kizer.


Kizer said the entire softball community — from those in college down to children’s leagues — is standing in support of the players at NCTC.


"The sport is more than a sport to us, it is a family," said Kizer. "The softball family is exploding with support."


A group of more than 20 former NCTC players also attended the vigil. Members of the 2013-2014 team wore pink shirts in support of the current team.


"This makes me realize that you never know what is going to happen," said Cheyenne Brown, who played for NCTC in 2011. "You have to play every game like it is your last."


Brown, who currently coaches softball for Northern Oklahoma College said her team was supporting her yesterday during a game. The players formed a cross in the dugout using softballs.


"They played in memory of the girls," she said.


Mindy McElroy, who also played for NCTC, said that former players were talking about it within hours of the accident.


"My softball friends are my friends, my family and my everything," she said.


Christy Petry, a member of the current Equestrian team, was in tears during Sunday’s vigil. Petry was taking classes with one of the players who died in the accident, and remembers seeing the girls often during practice while practicing riding. Petry said she was always struck by how close the team was, and how much they seemed to support one another.


Petry said she was struck by the fact that her team uses the same bus that the softball team uses, and often goes up the same stretch of Interstate 35.


"It just reminds all of us we can’t take life for granted," she said.


Friends and members of the student body concluded the vigil by releasing red and blue balloons in honor of those involved in the accident. Some balloons carried hand written messages to the four girls who died Friday.


Classes will continue as scheduled Monday, but counselors will be available for students who need someone to talk to about the accident, said Wallace.