WILKES COUNTY, N.C. – A small community in Wilkes County is devastated after learning sisters Cassandra and Madison Gilbert, of McGrady, were killed in a head-on car crash on their way home from school Thursday afternoon.
“It’s tragic," said Lewis Griffin. "That’s all you can say, just a tragic thing happened."
Troopers say 16-year-old Cassandra was driving on N.C. 18, near Painter Lane and was legally passing a school bus when her vehicle struck a pickup truck head-on.
The sisters were well known in the community, especially by customers at their parents' store just around the corner from the crash site.
"I just started bawling. I couldn’t help it, those girls if you ever know them, you never forget them,” said Rick Lovette.
A close family friend said Cassandra dreamed of going to North Carolina State University, and one day becoming a veterinarian. Twelve-year-old Madison was described as a sweet girl who loved making others laugh.
Cassie attended West Wilkes High School, and Madison was a student at West Wilkes Middle School.
People who know the Gilberts say they're heartbroken by the loss.
“Everybody (is) talking about hugging their children a little bit tighter, and how brief life can be sometimes,” said Cathy Bumgardner.
A GoFundme page to help pay for the girls' funeral raised nearly $10,000 in less than 24 hours.