Vigil held for Burlington County teacher, student killed in separate crashes

PEMBERTON, N.J. (WPVI) -- It was a somber remembrance Thursday night for a teacher and a student who were closely connected.

Allison McGinnis was a teacher at Helen Fort/Newcomb Middle School in Pemberton. Janiya Castleberry Davis was one of her students.

Allison McGinnis, Janiya Castleberry Davis

Both were killed in separate accidents involving a vehicle just before the new school year. The community gathered outside the school to honor them and to grieve.

13-year-old Janiya was in a traffic accident on Newbolds Corner and Smithville roads on August 2nd.

Nastassia Pankins was Janiya's close friend and says she still feels her presence.

"I feel she's with me. She's an angel in my heart now and she'll always be with me," Pankins said.

While Janiya was in the hospital, her teacher Ms. McGinnis was by her side.

But on August 27th, exactly one week after Janiya passed away from her injuries, McGinnis was hit by a truck while jogging alongside Route 206.

"She was a wonderful teacher, if I needed anything I could go to her. I loved her so much," Pankins said.

The crash sites for Janiya and Ms McGinnis were not far apart.

School leaders hope having this gathering will help the community heal. Both Janiya and Allison are described as people who could light up a room.

Thursday was the first day of school and students say not having these two will make for a difficult year.

"It was very hard just walking down the hall, so many memories started flowing in. Walking past Ms. McGinnis' room, there are so many memories made in there," student Silas Marrero said.

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