Like so many young people in the St. Charles Parish community, Luling resident Paige Bartolo is grieving the deaths of three of her friends.
The lives of Hahnville High School class of 2021 graduates Michaila Bowling, Hali Coss and Lily Dufrene were tragically cut short just after midnight on Nov. 20 when they were in one of two cars involved in a two-vehicle crash in Chackbay.
The preliminary investigation revealed that 39-year-old Joey Clement of Thibodaux, who was driving the other car, displayed signs of impairment and was arrested for DWI fourth offense with additional charges pending.
The crash remains under investigation.
Bartolo, with the help of her mom Stephanie, decided to start raising money via bracelet sales and collected donations with the goal of starting a scholarship fund in memory of Bowling, Coss and Dufrene. The friends had embarked on their college adventure together and started Nicholls State University in the fall of 2021. Bowling and Dufrene were studying nursing, while Coss was an allied health sciences freshman.
“I wanted to do it just to keep their memory alive and to show support to the families,” Bartolo said. “I wanted something to where people could have something to remember them by. The community and all of our friends have become a lot closer … I’m keeping the families close. We just want to give back to someone. All of them were really smart girls. They were doing great in college … they always pushed me to do better in school.”
The $3 bracelets feature the first names of the three girls, as well as the date of their death. They are for sale at Best Life Nutrition and Cherry Lane Boutique in Luling, or by contacting Bartolo via social media.
Bartolo said details of the scholarship are still being ironed out, but that the initial idea is to have it available to any Hahnville High School student attending Nicholls State and majoring in allied health sciences or nursing.
So far – through donations and bracelet sales – nearly $5,000 has been raised for the scholarship fund.
“We’d like to see that double,” Bartolo said.
Donations can be made through Venmo by searching @paigebartolo.