ARCADIA, Ind. (WISH) — The rural areas of northern Hamilton County make up the kind of place where people know their neighbors.
So virtually everyone in the community is stunned at the deaths of students from Hamilton Heights High School in Arcadia and Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. They were on their way to prom at an event center in Kokomo.
Junior Lendon Byram of Cathedral and his girlfriend, senior Kalen Hart from Hamilton Heights, died Saturday afternoon in a crash. Investigators believe Byram’s car was T-boned by another vehicle near 281st Street and Lacy Road. Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office continued to investigate the crash, but did not believe drugs or alcohol were factors. No criminal charges are expected.
Hamilton Heights Superintendent Derek Arrowood told News 8 on Monday that Hart was active in school activities. She wanted to go to Indiana University to become a teacher.
“She was involved in the play. She was involved in the choir. She was a good student, a really super-hard worker.”
“While maybe not everybody knew the students who were involved in the accident, everybody’s connected in some way to those students,” the superintendent said.
He said people in the community “care about their families; they care about their neighbors … strong faith-based community. It’s a great place to live, a wonderful place to raise children.”
In addition to grief counselors in place since Saturday, Arrowood says, faith-based groups were also on site Monday, and school districts in the neighboring area offered to send additional counselors.
“Our heart just grieves for her family and for her friends and we want to make sure we do our best job to support her family and support her friends here at school, support the onsite school as they deal with tragedy.”
Arrowood added, “Today at the high school, we’ve worked really closely with some area therapy-dog providers. So, we’ve got multiple dogs at the school, therapy dogs, that’s been really helpful. That’s part of our crisis plan.”
“We’re sorry and we grieve with you. Our condolences and if there’s anything at all we can do to help support you, don’t hesitate to ask.”
On Cathedral High School’s website Monday, a pop-up page showed Byram’s photo with the words “Cathedral Mourns the Loss of Lendon Byram.” The district also issued a statement.
“Lendon Byram had a brilliant, quick mind and was a natural storyteller. He was looking forward to representing Cathedral and the state of Indiana at the National Speech and Debate Tournament this summer. Three weeks ago, he was inducted into Cathedral’s National Honor Society. In addition to his family, he leaves behind friends and teachers who loved him very much. Please keep Lendon’s family and friends in your prayers, as well as Kalen Hart’s family and friends.”Cathedral High School
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Be Well Indiana Crisis Helpline: 211
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741