By Kristen Griffith (Whetstone Staff Writer)
Wesley College students were stunned and in mourning Tuesday when they learned of the death of a classmate the night before.
Freshman Brittany Paige was struck and killed by a car on North State Street near Silver Lake Bridge not far from campus Monday afternoon, March 16.
Police said Paige was jogging and stopped to cross the street at 4:47 p.m. After she passed the lane with stopped traffic at the Walker Road intersection, she began to jog again without looking back up from her phone, witnesses told police.
The car that struck her had just turned left on to North State Street. Paige was pronounced dead at Bayhealth Kent General Hospital.
The news shocked many Wesley students.
Freshman Betty Lee was puzzled when she heard her teammates whispering after her African Dance rehearsal.
“My friend said, ‘Don’t tell Betty because she’ll get emotional,’” Lee said. “And then I heard my other friend say, ‘Did you hear about Brittany?’”
Lee looked at her phone to find her roommate, freshman Stephanie Dobyns, begging her to come back to the room.
“I got back to the room and I walked in and started crying,” Lee said.
Junior Chelsea Marriner, who works at nearby McGlynn’s Pub, said she saw the aftermath minutes after the incident.
“I was working in the backroom, and you can see the bridge from the window,” she said.
Marriner said she saw the driver of the car that struck Paige.
“I saw the guy get out of his car, and his car was facing [Route] 13,” she said.
She also said she saw the ambulance, paramedics, police, and detectives at the scene.
“At first I didn’t know that it was an accident,” she said.
Marriner said she felt bad that Paige was taken so young.
“It sucks that all you want to do is go for a run and your life is cut short,” she said. “It makes you appreciate life more.”
Freshman Lauren Gray and Alyssa Watson were both shocked when they heard the news about their friend.
“I didn’t know how to react,” Watson said.
“I didn’t think it was true,” Gray said.
Both of them, along with Lee, last saw Paige at lunch at noon Monday.
“We made a funny face across the lunchroom and then laughed,” Lee said.
Lee and Dobyns were close with Paige.
“That was my best friend,” Dobyns said. “We were closer last semester than this semester, but we were still best friends.”
Dobyns said she was too busy that Monday to have lunch with her and the others. She had not seen Paige since before spring break.
Dobyns had a rough time accepting the news.
“I didn’t want to believe it,” she said. “I beat myself up inside.”
Lee and Dobyns both agreed Paige was a great person to be around.
“I always want to describe her as warm,” Lee said. “She warmed up to us. She had a warm smile. She was always just comfortable to be around.”
The evening Dobyns and Lee heard the news they gathered in their room with other friends and reminisced about Paige.
“At one point we had 10 to 15 people in the room and it was supportive,” Lee said.
They also spoke about a transformation they saw in Paige.
“She was very reserved,” Lee said. “Toward the second half of first semester, she started saying how she was beautiful. We felt comforted because we felt that some of her best times was with us, because we knew some of our best times were with her.”
Dobyns said if she could, she would apologize to Paige.
“I would apologize of how crappy of a friend I’d been this semester,” Dobyns said.
Moments before her death, Paige posted a picture of Silver Lake on Instagram.
“Long time since I ran outside but I couldn’t resist not running in this weather,” said Paige’s Instagram caption. “Made it to my destination.”