High school football star, 17, is killed in horror smash with semi truck while driving with four of his siblings on Georgia highway

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Written By Maya Cantina
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  • John Holsonback was in a car with four of his five siblings when it was hit
  • He attended Fannin Country High with his siblings and the school held an emotional candlelit vigil for their young football star
  • Brother Benjamin and sister Sarah were hospitalized by the crash but recovered

A school community in Georgia is struggling to recover after one of its football stars was killed in a car crash that hospitalized his brother and sister.

Hundreds attended a candlelit vigil at Fannin Country High School after John Holsonback, 17, was fatally injured while travelling with four of his five siblings.

The family which runs a flooring business in Blue Ridge are thought to have been heading off on a vacation when their car was hit by a semi truck outside their home town of Epworth.

Teammates and coaching staff from the Fannin County Rebels Football Team served as John’s honorary pallbearers, and the school paid tribute to the family with a Facebook post reading: ‘Yesterday. Today. Everyday. We are Fannin.’

John Holsonback, 17, was a star of the high school football team in Blue Ridge and treasurer for the Maple Grove Baptist Church 

John with his siblings Hannah, Elisabeth, Sarah, Luke, and Benjamin. Four of the five were in the car at he time of the fatal crash with the semi truck on April 1

John with his siblings Hannah, Elisabeth, Sarah, Luke, and Benjamin. Four of the five were in the car at he time of the fatal crash with the semi truck on April 1

Brothers John and Luke in an awards picture posted by their high school

Brothers John and Luke in an awards picture posted by their high school

‘We came together as a school and as a community,’ wrote teacher Joe Breeden.

‘People shared memories and stories of a fine young man.

‘This family has suffered a terrible loss. Unspeakable. Heart breaking.

‘They have instilled faith and values in their kids for as long as any who spoke at tonight’s gathering can remember.’

John’s sister Sarah and brother Benjamin were transferred to hospital in Augusta where they spent three days before being released after the crash on April 1.

Sarah and brother Luke both attend the dead boy’s school where their mother Melissa is on the staff.

More than $56,000 has been raised for the family by a gofundme appeal set up on April 2 by family friend Jessica Grostic.

‘Tragedy struck the Holsonback family as five out of six children were in a devastating accident with a semi truck while out of town,’ she wrote.

‘Sadly, one of the children, a junior at FCHS, did not survive. Two other children are currently in stable condition and receiving treatment at a hospital in Augusta.

‘Your assistance is urgently needed to support the family with funeral expenses for their son, John, as well as medical and travel costs.’

Two days later she reported that Benjamin and Sarah were in a stable condition and that parents Melissa and Mark wanted to ‘thank everyone for the prayers and the support of our amazing community’.

John Harrison, who runs a rival local flooring business paid tribute to the ‘wonderful family’ that had suffered the tragedy.

The young athlete was described as a 'fine young man' by one of his teachers

The young athlete was described as a ‘fine young man’ by one of his teachers

‘If anyone is deserving of assistance, it’s this family, and this family needs our help at this time,’ he wrote on Facebook.

‘Our business, the flooring industry, is a close group of store owners, competing sales reps, competing manufacturers and competing distributors.

‘But, regardless of our position in the industry, we are actually one big family.’

John’s siblings were released from hospital on April 6 and Benjamin recovered sufficiently to act as a pallbearer at his brother’s funeral on April 11.

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