Vineland High School North mourns 2nd teen death in 2 weeks

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November 13, 2013 3:27:31 AM PST
Grief counselors will be on hand Wednesday at Vineland High School North, after a car crash claimed the life of a 9th grade student.

The crash came less than 2 weeks after another student from the same school was killed in a separate accident.

"It's incomprehensible. We are grieving again today, it's only been less than two weeks since we lost another student and this beyond our comprehension. It's just a terrible, terrible tragedy," John Sbrana, Executive Director of Communications for Vineland School District, said.

It happened just before 8:00 p.m. Monday at Almond and Mill roads in Vineland.

Vineland Police say the 17-year-old driver of a 2004 Chevrolet Malibu lost control and slammed into a GMC truck parked off the road.

"Left the roadway and struck a parked truck that was parked in a front yard," Vineland Police Chief Timothy Codispoti said.

14-year-old Jermire Lowery, a VHS North freshman, suffered serious injuries in the crash. Medics rushed him to Inspira Medical Center, where he later died.

The driver of the Malibu and three other juveniles were taken to Inspira and treated for injuries said to be non-life-threatening.

Police say the car was travelling at a high rate of speed and the driver, who got his license two weeks ago, may have been in violation of a state law that limits the number of passengers with new drivers.

No charges have yet been filed in the accident, which is still under investigation.

The crash comes less than two weeks after the October 30th accident in which 14-year-old Alexa Strittmatter, also a freshman at VHS North, was struck and killed by two cars on South Main Road while walking to her bus stop.

Both Jermire and Alexa took the same bus to school.

School district officials released a statement Tuesday expressing shock and sadness over the double tragedy.

"The loss of any student is heartbreaking," said Vineland Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Gruccio in the statement. "But two, in this short period of time, is unthinkable."

"Of course, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this young man, and we will provide any assistance we can in helping them deal with this great loss," Gruccio said. "We will also provide grief counseling to any student or staff member at the school, including bringing in staff from other schools if necessary."

The school's principal, Mario Olsen, said counselors visited each classroom Tuesday to deliver the news to student, and a letter was sent home to parents.

The school library will be turned into a grief counseling center Wednesday. Guidance counselors and social workers will be on hand to help any student or faculty member who requests it.


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