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Funeral for Lumberton sisters killed in collision draws nearly one thousand people

HARDIN COUNTY- by Haley Bull

Nearly one thousand family and friends said their final goodbyes to two Lumberton sisters Thursday at Crestwood Baptist Church between Lumberton and Kountze.

Connely Burns, 20, and her sister Courtney Sterling, 15, died in a collision Feb. 3rd. Connely was pregnant, her son was due in March. Their mother was critically injured and remains in the ICU.

Crystal Boyett is in the Hardin County Jail charged with three counts of manslaughter in the deaths. Her bond is $1.5 million. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison on each count.

Boyett crashed into the back of the family's SUV in Lumberton. Troopers said she was driving at more than 150 mph when they first clocked her in Jasper County. According to Lumberton Police, she was traveling at 120 mph shortly before the crash near the intersection of Highway 96 and 69.

Courtney was a student at Lumberton High School and Connely had graduated from the school.

The large crowd at Thursday's funeral included family, friends, teachers and classmates.

"If you was falling down, she'd like come over there and try to  pick you up and make you feel good about yourself," Jonathan Olsen, a friend of Courtney's, said. "She was a good friend, she was always there for you."

"She cared about everybody and she'd always put others before herself," Tobye Olsen said.

Hundreds of people filled the church rows, celebrating the lives of the two sisters and Connely Burns' unborn son she planned to name Tyson.

Their aunt remembered the sisters at the service. Describing Connely, she said "That little girl has impacted me in more ways than one." She said Connely had a good heart, was mischievous and a maw-maw's girl. About Courtney, she said "She was a bright ray of sunshine," a memory friends shared.

"She treated you like her family. She treated people like her family and like she just loved everybody," Tobye Olsen said.

"She'd talk to you whenever you was sad, mad," Kaegan Hayward said.

"We live in a broken and diseased world and tragedy brings us together today," a pastor said. "Just because you're young, there's no guarantee you're going to get old."

The pastor said there would be a video feed of the service to the hospital where the girls' mother remains in ICU.

"We'll all get through it. We'll make it, gotta do it for her and her sister and Tyson," Hayward said.

A benefit for the Sterling family is planned for Feb. 23rd, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Lumberton High School. Money raised will go towards medical bills and funeral expenses.


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