CCA Valedictorian dies in crash, students pay tribute - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

CCA Valedictorian dies in crash, students pay tribute

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CHATTANOOGA, (WRCB)  --  The student body at the Center for Creative Arts School is remembering their class president the day after her death in a motorcycle crash.

Tuesday, students wore blue in honor of 17-year-old Kelly Butler's life.

She died on her way to school Monday morning, when she crashed her motorcycle on Big Ridge.

Police say they're not sure why Butler veered off the road, and struck a road sign.

Her friends say she'd only had her Honda motorcycle for a week, and was excited to drive it to school.

The color blue is hard to miss at the Center for Creative Arts. It's one of the many ways students are mourning the death of one of their own. "We sent out a message on Facebook yesterday," says senior, Kreneshia Whiteside.  "In honor of Kelly we decided to wear blue to school.  It's her favorite color." 

In between classes, students take a minute to write messages of love to their bubbly Senior Class President and Valedictorian. Kelly Butler's classmates already miss her dearly.   

"She'd smile at you and you'd know everything was going to be okay," says friend, Olivia Simmons.  "She really wanted everyone to be happy."

It was on the way to CCA Monday morning that Butler veered off Lake Resort Drive.  She was thrown from her motorcycle, and hit a road sign.  Friends, family even police are trying to figure out why.

"It doesn't make sense," says Whiteside. 

No other vehicle was involved in the crash.  Butler was pronounced dead at Erlanger. Her friends say she always wore a helmet, and loved riding.

"She got the bike the day before orientation," says classmate, Nicholette Smith.  "That's when she started driving.  She drove it to orientation." 

After lunch, seniors gathered outside the school, in front of a sign that says: "Kelly Grace Butler In Our Hearts Always."  A teacher snapped a picture for the yearbook.

Hearts are heavy, but students try to be happy for one reason: it's what Kelly would have wanted. "She wants us to be happy," Simmons says.  "She was a beautiful person." 

Funeral arrangements haven't been finalized.  Butler has an older brother serving overseas, and her family is waiting to find out when he can travel home.

CCA students are planning a candlelight vigil Wednesday night.

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