Community remembers Eureka Springs students killed in February car accident
By Samantha Jones
The Carroll County Community experienced every parent’s nightmare in February. On Friday, Feb. 22, two Eureka Springs students were killed in a car accident in the Grandview area north of Berryville.
The accident, and the community’s response to it, is the No. 55 local news story of 2019 in Carroll County.
Eureka Springs High School Principal David Gilmore confirmed that sophomore Kyle Daugherty and former student George “Buddy” Milawski were killed in the accident. Gilmore remembered the students, saying they loved spending time on the basketball court.
“If they had a free minute before school or after school, they were shooting baskets,” Gilmore said. “They were great kids, so talented and so likable. I’ve got fond memories of talking to them about their interests. We’re going to miss them.”
Grayson Ertel said Daugherty always had a smile on his face and greeted everyone with a fist bump or a hug.
“He had a really contagious smile,” Ertel said. “When he smiled, you would always smile back. He always made us laugh. He had a funny personality, and he was a phenomenal athlete.”
Emily Bird said Daugherty liked to joke around with teachers, and Madison Smith said he’d joke around with anybody.
“He definitely knew how to make my day and annoy me,” Smith said, “but he always made my day better.”
Preston Hyatt said he felt lucky to know Daugherty.
“He was a great person,” Hyatt said.
Mackenzie Loudermilk remembered how Daugherty would wear shorts even when it was freezing, and sophomore Gustavo Tapia said Daugherty even wore shorts under his pants. Loudermilk said Daugherty always wore a cross necklace, saying he never lost faith.
“He wanted to be an aerospace engineer for NASA after he got out of the Marines,” Loudermilk said. “He just loved space and everything about it. His favorite thing was a nebula.”
“Kyle was a straight A student,” Tapia said, “and if he got anything below an A, he’d get mad.”
Milawski had recently moved to Fayetteville, but Ertel said everyone at Eureka Springs grew up with him.
“He’d always greet you with a smile and a hug,” Ertel said. “He had this hilarious laugh that would make us hysterical. He was so goofy. He loved his family, friends, school and basketball.”
“His mom was his best friend,” Bird said. “He always talked about her, always wanted the best for her. He never let anybody down.”
Smith said Milawski loved basketball.
“His life was all about basketball,” Smith said. “He was definitely a goofball.”
Hyatt described Milawski as “the class clown.”
“He always had a lot of good jokes,” Hyatt said. “His personality would light up everyone’s life.”
Tapia said he’d known Milawski since the first grade.
“We played soccer and basketball. We’d always get in trouble together,” Tapia said. “We used to go to his house a lot just to hang out.”
To help students with their grief, Gilmore said the school held an assembly on Monday, Feb. 25, and had around 15 counselors available for group or one-on-one sessions.
“We had help from Youthbridge and local counselors from Berryville and Green Forest,” Gilmore said. “It’s been an outreach of support here. The community has been great to help us. We’re making it the best we can.”
Gilmore said the staff and students are determined to focus on good memories. They shared those memories at a candlelight vigil on Feb. 27.
“They were very popular, and we’re a small school,” Gilmore said. “Everybody knows everybody. They’ll be deeply missed. They had a big impact on our school.”
Gilmore added, “It’s been hard on these kids. They grew up with them. To see it end like this — it’s tough.”