Alexandra Hamilton, 17, passed away Thursday from injuries she received in an auto accident on the Corbin Bypass Dec. 17.

A popular Whitley County High School senior, severely injured in a three-car crash on the Corbin Bypass Dec. 17, passed away Thursday night at a Lexington hospital.

Alexandra Hamilton, 17, is being remembered today as a vibrant, happy, and very involved student whose positive attitude was infectious to everyone around her.

"I guess the best way I could describe her is that she was just like sunshine," said David Sweet, a Visual and Performing Arts Instructor at Whitley County High School. Hamilton was one of his students.

"She was one of the sweetest girls that could be … She was just so friendly to everybody."

Hamilton died some time Thursday night at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. She had been transported there Monday evening after she was involved in a near head-on collision on the Corbin Bypass. Police say she lost control of her 2000 Dodge Stratus while rounding a curve on the roadway, possibly hydroplaned, and crossed the centerline, striking another motorist. Her vehicle overturned and came to rest against a steep embankment.

It was raining the night of the accident. Authorities say wet road conditions likely played a role in the crash. Also, Hamilton was not wearing a seat belt at the time.

Sweet said he was told she was going to work at her job at Belk in Corbin.

A Facebook page called "Prayer Page for Alexandra Hamilton" had 3,327 "likes" as of Friday afternoon from people in the community supporting her and praying for her recovery. A post on the page from her family broke the bad news early Friday morning.

"It is with a heavy heart that I have to say we lost Alexandra tonight. Our loss is heaven’s gain. Words cannot express how much everyone’s prayers, love and support has meant to us. We love you all."

It was signed by her mother and father, Randy and Rhonda Hamilton, along with her older brother Ethan and younger sister Emma.

From those who knew her, a steady litany of praise and admiration of her life followed the sad news of her untimely death. A common theme emerged that Hamilton possessed a depth of character and moral commitment to her community that rivaled and often outmatched her outward beauty.

Whitley County Schools Superintendent Scott Paul said Hamilton was an excellent student who came from a well-respected, tight-knit family. She was very involved at Whitley County High School and in other community activities.

She was the captain of the school’s cross-country team, was a member of the track team and even played for the varsity soccer team for a time.

"She was a wonderful young lady," Paul said. "I know this is a tragedy for the family, but it is also a tragedy for the community as well. She will be missed by a lot of people."

Whitley County High School girls cross-country coach Gina Croley said Hamilton’s death hit her particularly hard. She’d known Hamilton since she attended preschool at Oak Grove Elementary with Croley’s youngest daughter.

"It’s been difficult. Just heartbreaking," Croley said. "She was so happy and bubbly and always smiling. She looked at each day as a blessing."

Croley said Hamilton enjoyed running and, aside from the schools official meets, she would participate in many community races to support charities and worthwhile causes.

"She always wanted to run in things like the race for the animal shelter or the Turkey Trot and she was really excited about the Paint the Town Pink Race," Croley said. "She was always concerned that the money went to a good cause."

As a member of the cross-country team, Croley said Hamilton was a true leader. She would encourage other teammates to join her in prayer before running, and would often convince opposing teams to take part as well at competitions.

"There was one time where she had every single team in a big circle of prayer. It was just breathtaking," Croley said. "Her running, like everything else she did, was for the glory of the Lord … I think she would want more than anything for someone out there to come to know Jesus through all of this. She wanted everyone to know she loved the Lord. She would want to touch someone in that way, even in her death."

"Her life was a testimony and everybody that knew her knows she went to Heaven."

Hamilton was also involved in local beauty and scholarship pageants. She participated in the Laurel County Fair Pageant this year as well as the Miss NIBROC Pageant where she won Miss Congeniality.

Sweet said she was active at Buffalo Baptist Church, where she was a member. During the summers, she would often go on missionary trips with the church.

"This whole thing has really just hit everybody sideways," Sweet said. "Wednesday was a pretty rough day for everybody at school. You could just tell there was a pall over the whole school."

Whitley County Schools were out of session Thursday and Friday for the Christmas holiday break.

Funeral arrangements for Hamilton will be handled by Ellison Funeral Home in Williamsburg. Arrangements were not yet finalized at press time.