Memorial Day Tragedy in Irvine; Will IUSD Step Up for the Kids & Teachers?

Five Irvine kids were killed following a horrific car crash in Newport Beach over Labor Day weekend.  If you want more details on the accident and the kids themselves, please see this story in today’s LA Times. In 2011, 14-year old Ashton Sweet was killed by an alleged drunk driver who blew through the intersection of Culver Drive and Irvine Blvd at a high rate of speed and struck a car she was riding in.  Her friends and classmates mourned her all summer with a makeshift memorial on the corner where the accident took place.  It was a summer of mourning in Irvine and in my opinion, those Northwood High kids didn’t get nearly enough grief counseling.

As far as the accident this weekend goes, IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker issued this statement:

Our community bears an unimaginable loss today as we mourn the passing of five students who were tragically killed on Monday in a horrific car accident.

There are simply no words to convey the sorrow felt by our students and staff, nor are there sufficient answers to explain the loss of five vibrant teenagers from our schools and this community.

On behalf of the entire organization, our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of each of these young men and women. We will do everything possible to help our schools cope with this tragedy in the emotional times ahead.

With that as our focus, our district will provide additional support to our schools. Counselors, guidance assistants, psychologists and other professional staff will be available to support anyone who needs it. We will also specifically reach out to classmates and staff who were close to the victims.

Once again, our hearts are with their families and all of those who are grieving this tragedy with us.

When Ashton Sweet was killed in 2011, there was grief counseling available for “those who need it” but I just don’t think it was enough.  Her friends and classmates held a nightly vigil for the remainder of Spring and through the summer at the corner of Irvine Blvd and Culver.  Balloons, teddy bears, candles and kids were present nightly.  It wasn’t until the Village of Northwood sign was defaced with Ashton Sweet’s name and authorities cleaned up the vigil spot.  A tree was planted to honor Sweet’s memory and a vigil for her was held last year.

And let’s not forget the teachers at Irvine High and Uni who have to deal with that empty seat in their class once occupied by a kid with a bright future.  One of my friends is a teacher at Irvine High and she posted this on her Facebook page yesterday:

Last night 5 lives were suddenly ended in a terrible car crash.  All 5 were high school students (1 from Uni and 4 from Irvine).  This is a terrible loss for the entire community.  My heart goes out to all the families involved and all those that were touched by these 5 people.   I had the pleasure of teaching 3 of these students.  They were rays of sunshine and were always smiling.  They made those around them smile, too.  You have touched our lives and our dance family.  You will always be in our hearts, in our music, and in our thoughts.  You will be greatly missed!

Now I believe IUSD didn’t do enough when Ashton Sweet passed away; I am prepared to be corrected here by someone on the school board or the administration, but they’ll have to explain the summer long vigil.  This weekend’s tragedy is five times as great.  Whenever a kid dies in an accident or as a result of someone else’s poor driving judgment, we feel the loss as a community.

I’ve long lost count of the rides I have given my children’s friends over the years.  To be involved in an accident where one of them is killed is something I just can’t fathom.  And I’ve also lost count of the rides my children have accepted from parents of their friends.  It reminds me that Irvine, in very many ways, is one big family.  The loss of Ashton Sweet was and still is heartbreaking; the loss of these five children is devastating.

Our prayers to the families and friends of the victims; we mourn with you.



1 Comment

  1. What a tragic loss of life.

    What those parents are feeling is complete heartbreak. I am so sorry, so very sorry, my heart goes out to each every one of those parents.


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