NEW CUMBERLAND – The “unbearable” loss of three Oak Glen High School students on Jan. 18 brought help and expressions of support from three states, Hancock County Schools Superintendent Suzan Smith told the school board Monday night.
“People were wonderful in providing us support in our time of need,” Smith said.
The three students – Kristyn Butcher, 16, of Newell; Kaylin Rice, 16, of Chester; and John “Emmett” Snow III, 16, of New Cumberland – were killed when their car collided with a New Manchester Volunteer Fire Department truck responding to an emergency on state Route 8. The two juniors and one sophomore had just left the Oak Glen girls basketball game and were on their way to Snow’s house.
“It was truly heartrending. It was a tragedy in every sense of the word,” Smith said.
Because of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and two calamity days, Oak Glen students did not return to school until Thursday. Despite that fact, Smith said she met with counselors that Sunday (Jan. 19) and most of the faculty and support staff on Jan. 20.
“Almost everybody came in and made plans for how we could best handle this situation,” she said.
Smith said Brooke County Schools Superintendent Kathy Kidder-Wilkerson offered four of the district’s counselors to help with the return of students on Thursday. Counselors were needed at Oak Glen High School, Oak Glen Middle School and the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center, she said.
The Oak Glen and Weir High girls basketball teams paid tribute to the three teenagers during their game on Thursday.
“This was a terrible, terrible tragedy,” Smith said, “but we had so many people provide support and help.”
Among those offering support were Deborah M. Jackson, superintendent of Burgettstown (Pa.) Area School District, and Tammy Adams, superintendent of South Side Area School District in Hookstown, Pa.
School board President Jerry Durante said Oak Glen High School received many messages of condolences – too many to count.
“It touched a lot of hearts in this valley,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher said the investigation into the triple-fatality is continuing, but he did not know when a final report will be released.