Bethany Harris, the pretty UWA cheerleader who went missing while on her way home to Empire, Alabama, has been found dead, according to ABC 33/40. Alabama State Troopers said the University of West Alabama student died in a car accident on Tuesday, December 29, that occurred along Interstate 20/59, near Tuscaloosa. Law enforcement officials have stated that it appears that the car left the road, struck a tree, and the body was thrown from the vehicle into the woods. Bethany Joyce Harris was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.
Family and friends had been looking for Bethany, and say that she was last heard from between 8-9 p.m. on Monday evening after leaving a basketball game in Mississippi. After that, no one was able to make contact with her by phone. When she didn’t arrive back home where she was headed, family and friends took to social media to spread the word for everyone to contact the Harris family if they knew of Bethany’s whereabouts. A prayer vigil had also been planned to take place in Dora when she first went missing.
As news of her disappearance was disseminated on social media, the missing student’s 2007 Scion TC was found near the Joe Mallisham Parkway exit, according to 12-WSFA. Since there was no occupant inside the wrecked vehicle, it was initially assumed that the driver had fled on foot. No one had any idea that the victim was lying in a nearby wooded area. Her parents were first notified when her car and cell phone had been located at the scene. According to WIAT, her body was found at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Today, many concerned citizens are asking if a search of the surrounding area was conducted. They are also wondering how it occurred, and if there were any eyewitnesses to the accident if it happened during the morning hours.
Longtime friends of Bethany Joyce Harris are absolutely devastated over the loss and say that heaven has gained an angel. The young woman with the bright eyes was known to have a very sweet and gentle nature. Friends also say that she had an infectious smile and big personality that will truly be missed.
Bethany Harris was studying Biology at the University of West Alabama and had hopes of becoming a pediatrician to help children with cancer. Friends say Harris graduated Valedictorian of her high school class. Even teachers and staff from her local middle school remember the young woman who touched so many people’s lives.
“One of my sweet babies that I taught in K-4 went to be with Jesus today! Bethany Harris 19 years old! The most sweetest girl in the world! Got to spend some time with her this summer and was so proud of her and all she had accomplish! [sic] She was truly and Angel on earth! Now a Angel in heaven! I love you sweet girl! Plz pray for her sweet parents. Sandra and Vernon Harris! May God be with them and give them peace!”
Bethany Harris’ death spotlights the concern for teens and young people who are not buckling their seatbelts while driving. Over the holiday weekend, many parents across the country worried as their young adult children left driving alone, heading back to their college towns. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Along with Bethany Harris, at least one other Alabama young person disappeared after driving home over the weekend. Family and friends are reporting that Timothy Perry, of Montevallo, left on Sunday, heading to Florida. He has not been heard from or seen since.
As for Bethany Harris, the details of the case are still very slim. We’ll be updating the story as we strive for accuracy with the timeline, which conflicts with the University of West Alabama’s public statement.
“The University of West Alabama has been informed that UWA student Bethany Harris was killed in an automobile accident on the night of Monday, Dec. 28. We are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and we express our sincere condolences to Bethany’s family.”
The death of Bethany Harris comes on the heels of another tragic Alabama accident involving Maria Rocha Gomez, a mother who died after her car crashed into a pond, near Montevallo, Alabama. In that accident, her two small daughters were also killed.
[Image via Facebook]