CAREY — A small town grieved Tuesday after one of its teenagers was killed in a two-car accident on icy roads.
The Carey High School student, whose name was not released Tuesday, was pronounced dead at the scene after the driver’s education car he was driving was hit by another car at about 7:30 a.m., just west of the U.S. Highway 20/Idaho Highway 75 intersection near Stanton Crossing.
Three others were injured in the crash, including driver’s ed instructor Jeff Mecham. He was transported to St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center near Ketchum, Blaine County School District Superinten-dent Lonnie Barber said, and later airlifted to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise with a collapsed lung, perforated spleen and liver, and internal bleeding.
Another student, a sophomore sitting behind the driver’s seat whose name also was unavailable, was taken by air ambulance to St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls with a broken hip. She was reported in good condition, awaiting word on whether doctors will need to perform surgery.
The driver of the other car, which struck the driver’s education car in the side, was first transported to St. Luke’s Wood River and then airlifted to Boise on Tuesday afternoon. That driver’s name also was not released Tuesday.
Lt. Jay Davis with the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office said the accident is still under investigation. Police want to talk to those involved to help them determine what happened, he said.
But reports already indicate slick roads were a factor. The road was so icy that emergency responders could barely stand up, said Jeff Nevins, assistant fire chief with Wood River Fire and Rescue.
“There was black ice from the Bellevue Gun Club on down, and there was ice with a crust of snow across the entire road at the scene of the accident,” Nevins said.
While investigators began their work, school officials and students sought to cope with the tragedy.
Carey School Principal John Peck gathered the 109 students in Carey’s seventh through 12th grades in the school auditorium at 8:30 a.m., hoping to ward off rumors. Twenty minutes into the school day, one student had already received a text message about the accident.
Carey’s fifth- and sixth-graders were in Boise, decked out in orange sweatshirts proclaiming “Carey loves BSU and ESPN” and hoping to get on the sidelines of the Boise State University football game. Peck figured parents of younger children might prefer to explain to their children what had happened in their own way.
“I told the students that one of the things about Carey School is that we’re family and that we laugh together and cry together. And I told them we’re going to have to get through this,” he said.
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Barber and Assistant Superintendent John Blackman drove to Carey as soon as they heard about the crash and spent most of Tuesday there, cancelling a special meeting of the school board.
“Everyone was crying. The students were crying. The teacherswere crying. We were crying,” Barber said. “It’s difficult because they’re all one big family. But the only thing you can do is help the school grieve.”
After Peck explained what had happened, the students formed into different groups to talk about it with their friends.
“They didn’t hold classes, but they didn’t send them home, either,” Barber said. “You can’t say, ‘Go back to class,’ after something like this happens. Some parents came and got their kids. Some parents came and sat with the kids.”
Students are writing memories and “thinking-of-you” messages to the hospitalized student in order to help her find some kind of closure, Peck said. And the football team has ordered black No. 37 stickers — the number on the deceased student’s football jersey — to wear on their helmets for the remainder of the season.
“He was involved in about everything — the football team, choir. He even had a part in the play next weekend. He was just an all-around good kid,” Peck said of the student, whose family has been in Carey for “a long, long time.”
Mecham, Peck said, has taught at Carey for about six years. A schedule posted on the school’s website had him tabbed to lead a field trip today.
“He cares a lot for the kids. He tries to do the very best for them,” Peck said.
This isn’t the first time this tiny community of 538 has had to deal with such a tragedy. Two Carey students were killed in a car wreck about eight years ago.
Barber said the school district has a crisis team of counselors and social workers ready to go to Carey if needed. And Peck noted the outpouring of support the school has received from the community and other schools.
“We are all in great pain today and are praying for the safe recovery of both of our Blaine County School’s family,” Barber wrote in an e-mail to district staff Tuesday afternoon.