STILWELL, Kan. — A car crash took the life of a Blue Valley high school student and hospitalized a second teenager.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office responded to the crash at 171st Street and Mission Road around 6:40 p.m. Monday. Deputies said the driver of the car lost control, left the road, and hit a tree.
The passenger in the car died from their injuries. The driver of the car is hospitalized, but is stable.
The names of the two teenagers involved in the crash have not been released at this time, but the Blue Valley School District confirmed the passenger attended one of its high schools.
The district said students and staff were told of the student’s death Tuesday morning. District leaders also sent an email with information to the families of the classmates involved.
To help students and staff process the loss and grief, the Overland Park Police Department brought Gus and Haven, two professional support animals to school. Haven is specially trained to provide support during times that can become emotional.
“It’s hard with a situation like this to get people to talk, to get people to open up to clinicians, and that’s where she comes into play,” Sgt. Stewart Brought, Haven’s handler, said, “because our whole goal is to get those kids resources and get the staff resources.”
Brought is with the Overland Park Police Department’s Crisis Action Team. He said lots of students visited Haven in the library to talk Tuesday.
“In the perfect situation, which we had several today, they’re able to come over, talk about Haven, pet Haven, and they’re able to relax a little bit and then counselors come up, and start talking to them,” Brought said.
Morgan Knight is a co-responder with JOCO Mental health. She said trained emotional support pets often open the door and break the ice so people can get the help they need.
“With animals in general, just the petting and touching, they’re very attentive to people,” Knight said, “and you kind of feel their unconditional love and it makes people feel more relaxed and, kind of, be able to open up.”
Knight has a message to any student or teacher struggling with this loss.
“Be kind to yourself and give yourself grace,” Knight said. “Everybody processes things differently. Just because somebody might look and be doing better, doesn’t mean that you’re not on track.”
The Blue Valley School District said there are also resources that may help parents and guardians help their students. The information is available on the Blue Valley Schools website.
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