A week after a car crash claimed the life of an 18-year-old senior, Moorestown High School students yesterday returned to classes to grieve again - this time over the weekend loss of a 17-year-old senior in another fatal collision.

Eric Messick was killed Friday night in an accident on Route 38 in Southampton. In a Dec. 9 accident, Evan Welch was killed when the car he was riding in went off the road into a ditch.

"Eric's loss, occurring in such proximity to Evan's death, is a devastating blow to the entire community," Moorestown schools Superintendent John W. Bach said yesterday. "This a loss that will test our faith and challenge our resiliency."

The district's crisis team met early Sunday to plan for a second consecutive week of school-wide mourning. The school was assisted yesterday by counselors from surrounding schools as well as members of the local clergy.

In a statement on the school Web site, the school system said, "Teachers and classmates remember Eric as a quiet, pleasant young man who came to Moorestown in 2005. Eric was a talented woodcraft student with a penchant for working on vintage cars. Eric's plans included enrollment at BCC next fall."

Freshman Colin Groundwater said yesterday the two fatal accidents - coming so soon after one another - was "definitely scary.

"I mean two seniors dying within a week of each other. Nobody really expects that. What can you really say about something like that? It really kind of makes you look at things in perspective. Really, it just makes you look, that it can happen to anybody."

Arriving for classes yesterday, 16-year-old sophomore Michael Schwartz summed up the feelings of many students: "It's pretty shocking."

Messick was killed about 9:30 p.m. Friday while riding as a passenger in a car driven by 2007 Moorestown High graduate Thomas J. McCue Jr., authorities said.

A car driven by Jesse J. Johns, 30, of Little Egg Harbor, crossed the double line to pass a truck and collided with the youths' car, authorities said.

Johns was in critical condition and McCue was in guarded condition at Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

Jack Smith, a spokesman for the Burlington County prosecutor's office, said yesterday that no charges have been filed, pending an investigation by the state police.

Tomorrow, Messick will be remembered in a life celebration, held from 1 to 4 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, Riverton and Bridgeboro Roads, Moorestown. A funeral service will follow. Interment is private.

Evan Welch was eulogized in funeral services Friday.

He was a passenger in a 1997 Volvo driven by a friend, Daniel Friedmann, 18, of Moorestown. Welch was pronounced dead at the scene; Friedmann was treated for minor injuries.

Friedmann was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving. The laboratory results of a blood test could determine whether additional charges are brought, authorities said.

In the meantime, Moorestown High School was trying to get through another shock yesterday.

"We will soldier on, finding comfort and strength in each other and in our community," Bach said.

"It's pretty shocking,"

said sophomore Michael Schwartz. To see a video from Moorestown High School, go to

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Contact staff writer Edward Colimore at 856-779-3833 or ecolimore@phillynews.com. To comment, or to ask a question, go to http://go.philly.com/askcolimore.

Inquirer staff writer Robert Moran contributed to this article.