Vigil for Dana Payne - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Vigil for Dana Payne

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More than 100 students and parents gathered in Millington this afternoon to remember Dana Payne. More than 100 students and parents gathered in Millington this afternoon to remember Dana Payne.
Teammate Tyler Smith was on the field and saw the accident that took Dana Payne's life. Teammate Tyler Smith was on the field and saw the accident that took Dana Payne's life.
Dana Payne, seen here with his younger brother. Dana Payne, seen here with his younger brother.
MILLINGTON, TENNESSEE -

(WMC-TV) - More than one hundred students and parents stood outside the school in Millington Wednesday afternoon to remember Dana Payne.

His mother was there as well.  She's a strong woman, bringing comfort to the many people hurting over her son's death - especially his teammates.

Of the hundreds of people at the vigil outside the football field, teammate Tyler Smith was on the field and saw the accident that took Dana Payne's life. 

"I was just across the field," said Smith, "I thought he had just got hit and he wasn't able to get up."

Smith played football with Dana.  Within seconds of the tackle he knew something terribly was wrong.

It's friends like Smith, who came to the vigil with their parents, that Dana's mom Tameka Smith says are helping her function through the shock of losing her son.  She hugged his friends and told stories all to make others feel better.

"That is why I'm holding up the way I'm holding up," said Tameka Smith.  "I've got to be strong. They can see me break down like that they are already breaking down," she added.

Dana's grandfather, Jeffrey Pope, said his daughter still has not dealt with the loss.  

"It will take a minute for it to hit her because she has so many around her but she's going to break down and grieve and I'm going to try to be there for her," Pope said.

Everyone talks about how fun loving Dana was.  How his smile brightened moods across campus. At school all the students wore blue, Dana's favorite color, in his memory.

Ashli Martin was just one of the students to attend the vigil.

"The fact that we lost one of our own he was a Trojan. We are all a family," said Martin.

For many of these young people, like student Jessica Adams, this is their first experience with grief.  

"I felt an emptiness of him not being there. It hurt like real bad," Adams stated.

Dana's grandfather, a pastor, offered comfort.

"We have to remember that God don't make no mistakes. God don't make no mistakes," said Pope.

The team didn't have football practice today but will tomorrow.

The school has not announced a decision on if Friday's game will go forward, though the players I talked to tonight tell me they want to play and dedicate the game to Dana.

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