CHEROKEES plan memorial for teens killed in auto accident


Wednesday, August 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) -- Four 16-year-olds killed in a weekend
auto accident will be remembered in a planned memorial at a local
Cherokee tribal high school.
The deaths of Smokey Mankiller, the nephew of former Cherokee
Chief Wilma Mankiller, Kyle Hutchinson Woolard, Chad Craig and
Erika Christie have devastated the community, Cherokee officials
said.
"It's not a large community, and everybody probably knows one
of the victims," tribal spokesman Mike Miller said. Three of the
victims were Cherokees.
A memorial of pine trees will be created at Sequoyah High
School, where Mankiller was the quarterback of the football team.
Hutchinson Woolard was also a Sequoyah student. Craig and Christie
attended Tahlequah High School.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Hutchinson Woolard was driving
a 1999 Ford Taurus eastbound on the highway at about 95 mph when he
attempted to change lanes.
The car slammed into the back of a 1989 Peterbilt
tractor-trailer driven by Ralph Allen Gray, 57, of Tahlequah. Gray
was not injured.
Cherokee Chief Chad Smith paid tribute to the victims in an
e-mail to the tribe's 1,800 employees.
"Each one of these children who have left us so early had
tremendous potential and had already touched so many lives," Smith
said.
Services were Monday for Mankiller and Tuesday for Craig and
Hutchinson Woolard. Funeral services for Christie were Wednesday.