Lumberton community grieves sisters killed in accident

As the investigation into Monday night's fatal crash on Highway 96 continues, the Lumberton community is coming together to support family and friends affected by the tragedy.

Connely Rene Burns, 20, of Lumberton had just moved into a new apartment where she planned to start a family with her son who was due in March. After a long day of moving, Connely along with her sister Courtney Ray Sterling, 15, and their mother Dawn Sterling, 46, decided to go out for ice cream. Shortly after, a Camaro driven by Crystal Lummus Boyett, 40, of Kirbyville slammed into the back of their Nissan Murano.

Connely was pronounced dead at the scene. Courtney and Dawn were taken to Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth in serious condition where Courtney died Tuesday afternoon.

Now family and friends are remembering the two sisters and trying to find a way to cope with losing them.

Taylor Bartley has lived down the street from the Sterling's for 11 years and dated Connely on and off for four years. He said she was a straight A student who was always trying to look and do her best.

"Connely was one of the first girls that really wanted to talk to me as the new kid in town," he said. "She made friends with me right off the bat."

Courtney was a freshman at Lumberton high school and was an active member of the Mighty Raider Band and color guard.

Lumberton ISD PR Director Anna Miller works with Dawn, who is the payroll specialist for the district, and knows the family. She said Courtney was very involved with school and her friends.

"She's one of those kids that always has a smile on her face," she said. "You always wonder what she's up to, but she's always laughing."

She said she remembered Connely as a caring person with a big heart.

"She has that kind of spirit of giving and helping others and always had a huge heart for others," she said, "it is the one thing that stood out."

Counselors will be at Lumberton High School to help students who are struggling with grief.

Anyone who would like to make a contribution to the family can do so through an account set up at Neches Federal Credit Union called Benefit of Sterling Family, the account number is 53688.


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