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Community Mourns the Loss of Lafayette Senior

A Sunday morning car crash that claimed the life of one local student and left another in critical condition has the school district and St.Joseph community on edge.

Posted: Apr 23, 2018 10:41 PM
Updated: Apr 29, 2018 11:15 PM

(St.Joseph,MO) A Sunday morning car crash that claimed the life of one local student and left another in critical condition has the school district and St. Joseph community on edge.

Lafayette seniors Darius Harris and Evan Steele were in a single vehicle car crash along I-229 early Sunday morning.

Steele was rushed to Mosaic Life Care with critical injuries, Harris was pronounced dead on the scene. The crash is still under investigation with the St. Joseph Police Department, but speed is suspected to have played a factor in the accident.

The incident has touched students, teachers and administrators throughout the St. Joseph School District. At the Board of Education meeting Monday night Board President Seth Wright made a statement on behalf of the district.

“We extend our deepest support to the family and friends of two Lafayette High School students who were involved in a fatal accident over the weekend. The accident claimed the life of Darius Harris and seriously injured Evan Steele. The district has provided additional support at the school this week and we ask everyone to keep the Lafayette school community in their thoughts during this difficult time,” Wright said.

Wright’s statement was followed by a brief moment of silence in memory of Harris.

Lafayette High School Principal Chris Early said students have been quiet, but the community support is making it easier during this difficult time.

“If there is ever a silver lining to a situation like this is that sometimes in the worst situations you see the best in people,” Early said.

MidCity Excellence Center Founder Kimberly Warren said she first met Harris 10 years ago when his family became involved with the center. Warren said those who knew Harris described him as a bright student that had a passion for helping others.

“He was a bright and inquisitive young man. He was tutoring one of our students in math, so he could have had a very promising career,” Warren said.

While Lafayette continues to feel the absence of the two students, Early said the school is bringing in additional counseling support to help students handle their grief.

“Lafayette is like a family and we can take good care of them here. I think they kind of put that vibe out, ‘we know you’re hurting, but we want you to come on in’ and I think our kids really respond to that,” Early said.

The MidCity Excellence Center is also offering counseling services and encourages students or anyone else touched by Harris’ life to reach out.

“It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to grieve, but most people get through their trauma because they have someone they can talk to,” Warren said.

Evan Steele currently remains in critical condition at Mosaic Life Care. According to school administrators and the MidCity Excellence Center, no funeral arrangements for Harris have been made at this time.

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Heat and humidity will continue to rise today with temperatures warming into the upper 90s this afternoon under mostly sunny skies. Heat index values will be between 107-109 this afternoon. Thursday will be even hotter with temperatures making a run for 100. Heat index values will likely top 110 on Thursday. Be cautious when spending time outside the next two days. A heat advisory remains in effect across the area until 9 PM on Thursday. Thursday night into Friday a cold front will approach our area. This will give us some isolated to scattered rain chances into the weekend as well as some cooler temperatures. Highs will be near average this weekend topping out in the mid to upper 80s.
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