Hardin High School death of student, Hardin, Montana

Start Date: 01/21/2020


MT teams were called the evening of 1/20 on our availability to drive to Hardin High School early the next morning to comfort students and staff traumatized by the recovery of the body of 16-year old girl, who had been missing since New Year's Day. The community had been very involved in looking for her for 3 weeks. Autopsy results are pending.

We arrived at 8:30 a.m. and were met by Chad Johnson and other school personnel, as well as a counselor, 2 FBI agents and a top official with the Indian Health Service. After check-in they escorted us to the library where we began interacting with students and staff. There was a aura of sadness permeating the school but also occasional laughter of kids just being kids. Staff were very caring and gave them the opportunity to deal with this tragedy in their own way. The principal made announcements, about the counselors and dogs being there for them. Some of the girls were involved in creating beautiful posters commemorating the student. There were also photos and information about her around the school. We basically wandered into various rooms and the gym and were in the halls during class changes. We asked students if they wanted to pet the dogs and most did; some, especially some girls, were very emotional, trying to hold back the tears. Many students and staff simply stopped, hugged and petted the dogs in the rooms/hallways. We expressed our condolences and said the dogs were there to give them comfort. They seemed very grateful to have us there.

News people were not allowed in the school but did interview and film us outside.

Agency: Hardin High School

Katherine Howe & Layla