Taking a walk around the campus of Grambling, some may notice tear-stained cheeks, silent sobs and an atmosphere of sadness. Students are grieving for two Gramblinites who were killed last week
Marcus D. Watson, a management major from Bastrop and member of the Tiger basketball team, and junior Marquist McCray, a pre-law major from Shreveport and member of the Marching Band, died in a one-car accident early Friday morning.
Both will be buried Saturday in their hometowns.
Funeral services for McCray will be 10 a.m. Saturday in Summer Grove Baptist Church (the old South Park Mall) to accommodate a special performance by the band.
Watson’s funeral is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Morehouse Baptist Association Building on Collinston Road in Bastrop.
The Office of Development is spearheading the drive to collect donations to help Watson’s family defray funeral costs.
“I was close friends with Marcus and he was my role model,” said Mike Winston, an education major at Grambling. “I was very sad when he died because it was like my brother had died. I grew up with ‘Equal,’ that was his nickname.”
Winston believes Watson had a promising future. “We always knew he was going to make it and that he was something special.”
Freshman LaBrilla Thomas praised McCray. “He motivated me to stay in the band. I was feeling like band wasn’t for me and he told me not to give up and give it a chance, and that’s what I did … . Marquist was an all around great person.”
Watson and McCray were back seat passengers in a car driven by Harold Jamar Lewis, a 22-year-old senior from Monroe. Police say Lewis’ vehicle skidded into both lanes on Interstate 20, then ran off the right side of the road and struck a tree. The vehicle then caught fire.
Lewis and front-seat passenger John R. Dorsey, a 19-year-old freshman from Neptune, N.J., were pulled from the vehicle by passersby who stopped to help. McCray and Watson were still in the car when it burst into flame.
They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Dorsey, also a member of the GSU basketball team, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Lincoln General Hospital in Ruston. He was later released.
Lewis suffered severe burns and was transported from Lincoln General Hospital to the LSU Burn Center in Shreveport.
State police say Lewis, a starting forward on the basketball team, will be charged with two counts of vehicular homicide because alcohol was a factor in the crash.
Many feel the punishment that Lewis faces may be too severe.
“Vehicular homicide is a serious crime. If the person had no intent to kill and it was clearly an accident, there is no need for serving time, but maybe a series of counseling sessions,” K. Giles wrote in a message posted on The Gramblinite Web site.
“The person has to live with the fact that he has taken two lives and that to me is punishment enough.”
In remembrance of McCray and Watson, the marching band played in front of the cafeteria.
“His death was devastating to the band because not only was he a good person but a model student,” said band director Dr. Larry Pannell.
“Marquist also had a saying in the band: ‘Always perform like this is our last performance,’ and this is something that will always be remembered, along with his smile.”
The band plans to dedicate the homecoming game field show in McCray’s name.
The sadness extends beyond the boundaries of Grambling.
Alumnus Winfred Barnes Jr. of Houston noted that “when one (Gramblinite) hurts, we all hurt.”
Athens High School principal Craig E. Roberson offered words of comfort for family and friends of the two victims.
“I want you to know that grief is like a heavy load, but when shared it becomes easier to bear,” Roberson wrote to www.thegramblinite.com. “The entire Tiger Nation is here today to help carry that load.”