(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Students at Lafayette High School returned to school after a weekend car crash killed a classmate.
Typically a month before graduation students would buzz around the halls, charge by the excitement of summer vacation, college and beyond. No electricity like that could be found in the green and white halls Monday.
“Right off the bat, I noticed that the halls were very quiet,” Principal Chris Early said.
Two seniors, Darius Harris and Evan Steele, were in a fatal car accident on I-229, just South of Lake Blvd., early Sunday morning. St. Joseph police said the crash killed Harris and sent Steele to the hospital with critical injuries. Mosaic Life Care officials said Steele was still in critical condition.
The High School offered counseling and support services for students who returned to school. Principal Chris Early met with his staff in the library Monday morning to prepare for the difficult week ahead.
“One of the things we talked about in the staff meeting was that it would be up to our teachers to read the vibe of the room,” he said. “If they could sense some kids needed extra help, we didn’t want them to hesitate, and go ahead and send kids to the counseling center.”
Early coordinated with the District’s Administrative team to borrow counselors from other schools. The school usually has three on staff but the District sent two more.
But Early said no degree of planning by he or his staff will make this week any less difficult.
“Whatever the kids need, we will figure out a way to work with them,” he said. "The teachers are very sensitive to that."
Early also wants to thank the community for the outpouring of support. One church dropped off water and tissues, other people brought food and notes.
“If there is ever one silver lining to a situation like this, is sometimes in the worst situations you see the best in people,” he said.
Police said they are still investigating the crash but speed was a factor. Police released no other details of the crash.