LORETTO, Tenn. — The recently elected homecoming queen at Loretto High School and her best friend have died following a Wednesday night crash that occurred while they were returning home from a trip to the beach, officials said.
Rianna Watson, Leoma, died shortly after the accident and Tanna Pesnell, Loretto, was pronounced dead early tonight, officials said.
The girls were 17 and seniors at Loretto High School.
Pesnell was chosen homecoming queen two weeks ago.
The accident happened at 6:08 p.m. on a stretch of Old Florence-Pulaski Road north of Loretto.
Loretto High School is closed this week for fall break. The girls took a vacation to the beach during the off week.
“We opened up the school last night and had 100 students and parents there, sharing stories and just being there with each other,” Loretto High School Principal Jennifer Littleton said.
She said the school opened today at 10 a.m. to give students and school personnel a place to gather.
“We thought we would open again for anyone who wants to come in and be together at this time,” Littleton said.
Tennessee Highway Patrol officials said Watson was driving a 2002 Envoy that crossed into the path of a Freightliner truck driven by Brently Cheek, Leoma. Cheek was not injured, authorities said.
Watson was taking Pesnell to her house when the crash occurred, officials said.
The accident remains under investigation.