Newberry College student dies in car accident - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Newberry College student dies in car accident

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NEWBERRY, SC (WIS) - Women's basketball players at Newberry College are mourning the death of one of their teammates.

The coroner says 22-year-old Keena Phillips was killed Saturday morning in a car wreck while heading back to school.

"We just miss having her around, you know," says Head Coach Sean Page.

It's been a heavyhearted weekend for Page.

Saturday he consoled Keena Phillips' parents in Wisconsin over the phone. Sunday morning, he met with Keena's teammates.

"They're devastated, you know it's a huge loss," he says.

Keena was a senior captain for the Newberry College women's basketball team. She was studying to be a school psychologist.

"Just a positive person to be around, always had a smile on her face.  Good student, good leader," says Page.

Keena was riding back to school Saturday morning. The Highway Patrol says at 3:00am she was sitting in the passenger seat of a disabled car on the side of I-26 when a van crashed into it, killing her instantly.

The incident is still under investigation.

Phillips' death is the fourth tragedy to hit Newberry College athletics this year.

In March, offensive lineman Heath Benedict died at his apartment in Jacksonville. In September, Benedict's former teammate John Newell passed away.

Then the athletic director's ten-year-old son died this fall.

"We're a family, I mean, that probably sounds like a cliché but it's a very small school. Everybody knows everybody, cares about everybody," says Page.

Keena will be on the minds of Page's team as they begin a tournament in Georgia Monday night.

"It's basketball that gave us the opportunity to have Keena in our lives and it's basketball that is what we're gonna try to use to move forward in the healing process," says Page.

Reported by Jordan Sandler

Updated by Jeremy Turnage

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