The children of two College Station natives died early Wednesday morning in a car accident on the way to school, officials said.
Madison McCleary, 18, and her brother, 11-year-old Tanner, are the only children of Audrey and Kevin McCleary, who grew up in College Station and now live in Jourdanton. They are the grandchildren of Brazos County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Mike McCleary.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Madison McCleary was driving the two to school in Jourdanton, which is near San Antonio. Authorities say she was traveling north on F.M. 1333 in Atascosa County around 7:30 a.m. when her Toyota Camry veered off the road. She overcorrected the vehicle and moved into southbound traffic, where the car collided with a pickup. The McCleary children were killed in the accident. The 38-year-old driver of the pickup was not injured.
According to Sgt. Deon Cockrell with the Texas Department of Public Safety, investigators are not sure why Madison McCleary's car went off the road. The roads were slick that morning, he said, but troopers have not yet concluded whether that played a role in the accident.
Friends of the McCleary family say the children's family is understandably devastated. According to family friend and College Station resident Jaclyn Moore, the McClearys are a tight-knit family.
"[The parents] shielded the children with their lives and they did everything together," she said. "... Their grandma also doted on Madison and Tanner and loved those babies. The grandparents would often take them out to a cabin on the lake and go fishing with them."
Madison McCleary, who planned to attend Sam Houston State University in the fall, spent kindergarten through fourth grade as a student at South Knoll Elementary in College Station. Her kindergarten teacher, Ann Shafer, remembers her fondly.
"She was always a really sweet girl," she commented. "Madison was always cooperative and happy to be at school."
Another trait the teacher remembers of her former student: Madison had an intense love for her little brother since the day he was born.
"She was so excited when he came along," Shafer said.
Both the Brazos Valley and the Jourdanton community have circled to comfort the deeply wounded family. The students of Jourdanton ISD gathered in a mass assembly at their schools to mourn the loss of their friends, Moore said. Money is also being donated to the McCleary family through the website GoFundMe. Moore and another friend of the family set up a special account for the family with the goal of gathering $20,000 to pay for funeral expenses. By Thursday evening, almost $36,000 had been raised.
"The parents have great family support, and hopefully their faith in God will get them through this," Moore said.
Visitation will be at A&M Church of Christ, 2475 S. Earl Rudder Freeway, in College Station at 10 a.m. Monday. Services for the two will be at 11 a.m. Monday at the church.
The GoFundMe page can be found at www.gofundme.com/mccleary.