Glastonbury, Colchester high school students mourned after fatal crash

Andra Spencer, 15, a junior at Bacon Academy, died in a crash in Glastonbury Sunday. She was remembered as caring and funny. 

Andra Spencer, 15, a junior at Bacon Academy, died in a crash in Glastonbury Sunday. She was remembered as caring and funny. 

Provided by Taylor Gerst

GLASTONBURY — Two school systems are mourning the loss of high school students after a weekend crash. 

Glastonbury High School is remembering Gordon “Mac” Southby, 18, who was riding a motorcycle that collided with an SUV on Hebron Avenue Sunday evening.

And Bacon Academy in Colchester is mourning the death of Andra Spencer, a junior who was in the back seat of the SUV.

The SUV and motorcycle were both near the Route 2 on-ramp when the collision happened shortly before 7 p.m., police said. It is too early to say how the crash is believed to have happened, Glastonbury Police Capt. Mark Catania said Tuesday. Police are still conducting interviews. 

Catania did say it is very unusual for a person in a vehicle to die in a collision with a motorcycle. 

It was the “first time in my career, which is coming up on 30 years,” that Catania had seen such a crash.

Southby was facing a number of motor vehicle and other charges when he died. In January, he was charged in Glastonbury with speeding, reckless driving and operating without a license, according to state judicial records. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. In March, he was charged with interfering with an officer/resisting arrest and several more motor vehicle offenses. He was scheduled to appear in court Oct. 6 for the charges.

At Glastonbury High School, Principal Nancy Bean described Southby as smart and "charismatic."

“Mac was very intelligent and charismatic, and will be greatly missed,” she wrote in a letter to the school community. “We have Mac's family and friends in our thoughts as they process this devastating loss.”

Bean said school counselors, psychologists and other support staff are available to help those who need it. 

Colchester Public Schools also are providing counseling in the wake of the crash. Counselors are available at both the public high school, Bacon Academy, and William J. Johnston Middle School, according to T.Y. McDowell, superintendent of schools. 

“As a community, we are committed to supporting our students who may be emotionally impacted by this tragic news,” he said.

Taylor Gerst's world will never be the same. The 16-year-old described Spencer as “the most caring, funny person ever.” She was athletic, too, participating in track and field, she said.

Gerst told a story to illustrate how caring Spencer was to others: Once, when the girls were on FaceTime and playing video games with a group, Spencer noticed Gerst was not talking, so she exited the group call and texted her friend.

“She just basically said, ‘Hey, I wanted to check up with you to see if you were OK,’ ” Gerst said. It turned out Gerst had been having a stressful week, she said, and she benefited from talking about it. 

“She always could tell if someone was upset,” she said.

Spencer was funny in English class last spring, when she and other members of a work group were “jamming out to a song” and wouldn’t quit, even after the teacher asked them to stop, Gerst recalled.

The teacher made them bring their chairs to the back of the room and face the wall in hopes they would stop singing, but Spencer and her fellow group members, who also were her friends, “just kept on doing it,” she said.

“She lit up the room with her smile and her laughter,” Gerst said. 

A GoFundMe fundraiser Gerst set up for the Spencer family, which includes her sister and two brothers, had nearly $3,000 of its $4,000 goal by mid-afternoon Tuesday. 

Christine Dempsey may be reached at Christine.Dempsey@hearstmediact.com