Karissa Tatum, 21, was a junior at Savannah State University (SSU) and played the right-side hitter position for the women's volleyball team.
Leaving before Hurricane Dorian reached the area, Tatum and some friends were driving home to LaFayette, Ga. on Sunday when her car hydroplaned on I-16 and struck a tree, according to WSAV.
Tatum was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital in Savannah. She had just turned 21 on Aug. 23.
Tatum was a star athlete at LaFayette High School, whose volleyball team school posted a tribute to Tatum on Facebook Thursday, calling her "the epitome of a competitor" who "will be greatly missed."
"She didn’t care who you were, she was gonna show up and show out. Karissa knew she wanted going to play D1 athletics, so she did it," the post read. "Everyone that knew Karissa, was lucky to meet a special person. While she was only teammates with 2 of our current Lady Ramblers, her legacy as a Rambler and dedication the program helped pave the way for the current Ramblers. Karissa helped build the foundation for what we now have."
“She was like a best friend, she was a great person, she would give anything to anybody. She would do anything to make you smile,” De’Antonette Rodriguez, Tatum’s teammate and roommate told WSAV.
John Waldon, a LaFayette High School teacher, also posted a tribute on his Facebook page.
“My heart is heavy right now. The world lost a bright light,” said Waldon. “Please pray for the Tatum family as they cope with the loss of their sweet daughter, Karissa...She was such a joy. Such a painful loss for the LaFayette community.”
On Thursday, after learning of Karissa's death, her former volleyball team swept two matches with Tatum's initials written on their legs and the team wearing orange and blue, the colors of SSU, according to the Walker County Messenger.
Students were able to return to Savannah State University campus Saturday, days after Hurricane Dorian left the area.