Michaila Bowling, Hali Coss and Lily Dufrene.
By all accounts the three Luling residents were the best of friends. Each a HHS class of 2021 graduate, the three friends embarked on their college adventure together and started Nicholls State University this fall. Bowling and Dufrene were studying nursing, while Coss was an allied health sciences freshman.
The community was shocked to learn last week that their lives were tragically cut short just after midnight on Nov. 20 when a two-vehicle crash occurred on LA Hwy 20 in Chackbay. The preliminary investigation revealed that 39-year-old Joey Clement of Thibodaux was driving northbound in a 2019 Ford F-150 when he crossed the centerline and struck a SUV head-on, according to Louisiana State Police Troop C Public Affairs Spokesman Trooper Ross Brennan.
“After the crash, both vehicles became engulfed in flames,” a press release stated. “All three occupants in the SUV suffered fatal injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene. Clement experienced minor injuries. Clement was unrestrained while restraint use is unknown for the SUV occupants.”
According to State Police, Clement displayed signs of impairment and was arrested for DWI fourth offense with additional charges pending. Toxicology samples were collected from both drivers and submitted for analysis.
The crash remains under investigation.
“My memory of Lily was that she was the mom of the group … she kind of made sure everyone was okay,” the girls’ friend Hailey Coffelt said. “Hali was the life of the party … she could make anyone have fun in school and out of school. And Michaela … she was the soul … she was the most kind-hearted person I will ever know. They all were so beautiful and so young, and I think that what happened to them doesn’t even describe the pain it’s caused this community. They will always be forever missed and loved.”
Paige Stabile said she met Dufrene at Holy Family Preschool in Luling when they were each just 3 years old.
“We immediately became best friends the first day of school,” Stabile said. “I was crying and she made sure to cheer me up. She even walked with me to the bathroom and played with me all day. After preschool we remained friends throughout elementary school and we became close once again in middle school. Lily had a contagious laugh and the most caring heart … we had so much fun together.”
Dufrene’s mother Traci Dufrene said her daughter was spirited, silly, moody and loved life, people and animals.
“She always saw the good in people and was one of the most forgiving people I knew,” Traci said of Lily. “She saw a world full of hope and possibility … she believed in everyone even in the darkest of situations. Her heart was so genuine, and she always saw love. Her smile lit up the room and she hated it … she said it was crooked…but it was perfect. I will forever miss that smiling face.”
Traci said she hopes people never forget Lily, her giving soul and her hopeful view of the world.
“She never stopped making plans, organizing her future and dreaming ahead,” Traci said. “My hope is that all of those that have been impacted by her life in some way carry this on in her honor. The days are hard now but continue on … dream big and do great things for Lily.”
Taylor Borey is Bowling’s older sister.
“For 18 years I got to love and cherish my sister and our bond,” Borey said. “She was incredibly beautiful with the biggest heart. She always went above and beyond for those she cared about. She was full of energy and we all knew her future was bright. She was the best big sister to Kennidey and the best little sister to me. I know she is looking out for us now. Michaila Paige, you are loved.”
Borey said that she will not only miss her sister, but Dufrene and Coss as well.
“Hali and Lily were my sister’s best friends. They were inseparable and it brings me some peace knowing that they are together,” she said. “They were all so beautiful and smart. Nicholl’s State had three hardworking, dedicated students with personalities brighter than the sun. Please remember that drinking and driving does not only put your life at risk, but the lives of everyone on the road. Michaila, Hali, and Lily would all still be here today if one person would have called an Uber.”
Madson Manieri said she will never forget Coss and her larger-than-life personality.
“Hali was always the life of the party and had such a free spirit,” she said. “Any time she would walk in the room it would instantly light up … I know she is lighting up heaven. I will cherish every moment from car rides in her Jeep blaring music with the windows down to dancing obnoxiously in my room. I love you forever and ever my angel.”
Alyssa Moreau agreed that Coss was a loving, talented and goofy person.
“She always brought smiles to everyone’s face,” Moreau said. “Even if you were in a sad mood … she always tried to make you feel better. She was always the light of the room. Hali loved dancing and I know she’s dancing up in heaven right now. She enjoyed every ounce of life.”