ARCADIA, Ind. (WISH) — Two high school students died in a Saturday night crash on the way to prom, and the Hamilton Heights School Corporation has canceled all prom activities to provide grief counseling to students.
Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan McClain identified the students who died as Lendon Byram, who was driving, and Kalen Hart, one of the passengers.
Hart’s mother, Jody Conaway, shared photos of the couple on their way to prom before the crash.
Hart was a Hamilton Heights High School student. Byram attended Cathedral High School, which confirmed his death in a tweet early Sunday morning.
Superintendent Derek Arrowood on Saturday shared a message on the district’s Facebook page, saying the students were in an accident on their way to prom, which was being held at the Elite Banquet Center in Kokomo.
Grief counselors and members of faith communities were going to be present at the banquet center in Kokomo and the Hamilton Heights Media Center, Arrowood said.
The crash happened around 5:15 p.m. near the intersection of 281st Street and Lacy Road near Arcadia, Deputy Ryan McClain with Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.
Two passengers in the backseat of the car driven by Byram were taken to St. Vincent Ascension on 86th Street, with injuries that McClain said did not appear to be life-threatening.
McClain said investigators believe Byram’s car was T-boned by another car with only one occupant. On Saturday night, investigators said it was not clear which direction the cars had been driving.
Full statement from Arrowood:
Hamilton Heights School Corporation released the following statement on Sunday:
We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own, senior Kalen Hart, and her prom date, Lendon Byram, due to injuries sustained in a traffic accident yesterday. This is an unimaginable loss for these families and our school community.
Our focus right now, as a district, is to provide support to students, staff members, and families during the difficult days and weeks ahead. School counselors and support staff will be available to meet with students and their families this afternoon between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. at the high school media center to help with the grief, coping, and the healing process, as well as provide additional resources.
When we return to school tomorrow, we will follow the regular class schedule with extra staff available throughout the day to help students during this difficult time. For students on the virtual schedule, please do not hesitate to contact the guidance office or come into the school for needed support.
Meanwhile, we encourage our families to stay close, connected, and to be aware of the signs of grief, which can produce an array of painful feelings, emotions, and/or behaviors. Grief is personal and everyone experiences and processes loss and trauma differently. Should you or your children need extra support in coping with this tragic event, please do not hesitate to reach out to our school counselors, or to the many resources available in the community. Students may also use the school’s Quick Tip link if they are struggling. A link to helpful information for parents or other caregivers from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was shared with parents.
Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families and friends of these young students.