Students deaths/injury (MI)

Start Date: 02/20/2020


Three L'Anse, Michigan, students were involved in a vehicle incident around 4:15 P.M. on Monday, Feb., 17, 2020. Two Senior boys were found dead in a parked car along side of the road. The third student, a Junior girl, was found unconscious. She was sent to the hospital. Four HOPE teams arrived on the second day after the incident. After meeting the principal, superintendent, and counselors, we staged our teams at two entrances as the students entered that morning. The elementary students were quite overwhelming because all K-12 students entered through the same two doors, except for the students who drove vehicles.
The first day consisted of all four of us being asked to go to various rooms, whether it was to counselor offices or classrooms. We were often pulled to more than one place from elementary to middle to high school rooms, which was at times exhausting. When the counselors from the school and the Intermediate School District met after school to debrief, it was decided to reorganize the situation. For day two, there would be only three rooms set up with counselors and one dog team for each. One room was for the Juniors and Seniors who received permission to go, where Nick & Kayak attended. The second room was for the Sophomores and Freshmen where Karen & Charles attended. The third room was for grades 6-8 where Julia & Ischgl attended. Having just three teams available, this worked out well. Also having the students sign in and out plus touching base with their teachers made the flow of students work much smoother. It gave all counselors a chance to work with the groups and with individual students.
Besides dealing with the death of two boy students, the staff and students were grappling with the unknown condition of a girl in the hospital, The news that second day was very grim. The chance of her coming out of her coma and living was very bleak. The tone in the whole school was quietly painful and stressful.
At noon on the second day, to many, a miracle happened. It was announced that the girl had woken up and was coherent. The atmosphere in the whole school totally reversed. Suddenly there was an uplifted atmosphere of smiles and talking and even laughter. Now our dogs definitely brought many smiles, petting and cuddles, but this good news seemed to bring hope to everyone. The cause of the two deaths and the third's unconsciousness is still under investigation.

Agency: L'Anse Area Schools, L'Anse. Michigan

Kelly December & Daisy, Karen Alford & Charles, Nick Meier & Kayak, Julia Meier & Ischgl