MANHATTAN (KSNT) — Two 14-year-old teens are dead following a crash in Manhattan Sunday afternoon, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

The KHP’s crash records said a 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer was going eastbound on K18 Highway near mile marker 186 when the driver lost control and the car went into a ditch. Upon entry, the car collided with a concrete bridge pillar and caught fire after impact.

Besides the two 14-year-olds that died in the wreck, there were three other teens in the car at the time of the crash. One suffered serious injuries, while the other two were left with minor injuries, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

The two teens were middle school students in the Manhattan-Ogden School District. Superintendent Dr. Marvin Wade sent the following message to district families.

“USD 383 Families,

It is with great sadness that I am informing you of the death of two of our students. While words cannot express our collective grief and sadness at this tragic news, I recognize the importance of you having this information as quickly as possible so it can be discussed within your family prior to tomorrow’s school day. 

Early in the morning of Sunday, December 5, there was a single car accident with two fatalities. Eisenhower Middle School students Gaysha Alfred and Kenni Cantu passed away in the accident. Anthony Middle School student Jean-Carlos Vasquez-Ponce was life flighted to KU Medical Center. Two additional occupants of the vehicle sustained minor injuries.

We have implemented our Emergency Response Plan to provide support to students, staff members and families during the difficult days and weeks ahead. Counselors and other school staff will be available in the school setting to assist students and staff. If you feel your child needs additional assistance or is having a great deal of difficulty coping, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s school. While it is important to deal with grief, loss, anger, and fear reactions, we believe it is essential to resume as normal a routine as possible regarding the school schedule and activities.”

Dr. Marvin Wade
USD 383 Superintendent

The superintendent told parents and guardians in USD 383 they can do the following to support their child after this tragedy:

  • Talk with your child about his/her feelings about the tragedy; share your feelings too
  • Talk about what happened, give your child information he/she can understand
  • Reassure your child that they are safe; you may need to repeat this reassurance often
  • Listen and comfort your child often
  • Reach out to school mental health liaisons – Samantha Brown ( samanthabr@usd383.org) or Carrie Hewins ( carrieh@usd383.org)

Anyone with other questions or concerns is asked to contact the school at 785-587-2880.