MOIRA — Grief-stricken students, faculty and staff turned to counselors and each other Thursday to cope with the death of Brushton-Moira Central School athlete Brooke Lyon.
The 16-year-old died in a one-car crash near the intersection of McGowan and Eddy roads at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, when the car she was riding in went off the highway and struck a tree.
She, a junior, was the daughter of Curt and Tanya Lyon of Moira and had two brothers, Zachary Lyon and Derek LaVoie.
The driver, Tanya A. Menke, 16, and a second passenger, Alexis M. Collette, 17, both of Brushton, were rushed to Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, then transferred to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.
Menke was listed in fair condition Thursday, and Collette was in critical condition, according to officials there, who use the terms good, fair, serious or critical to describe a patient's status.
WEATHER A FACTOR?
State Police said Menke was on McGowen Road and attempted to turn onto Eddy Road when she lost control of the 1999 Volkswagon Beetle she was driving, which went down a small embankment and struck a tree.
Investigators said the weather and fog may have been a factor in the crash.
Franklin County Coroner Brian Langdon expected to have official autopsy results from pathologist Dr. Leonard Dishman later Thursday but said Lyon's death would likely be ruled accidental and "caused by blunt-force trauma consistent with motor-vehicle-accident impact."
Brushton-Moira District Superintendent Beverly Ouderkirk said the school's calling tree was activated Wednesday night to begin the effort to have counselors and clergy members available Thursday for the students, teachers and support staff impacted by the tragedy.
The district paid special attention to the student athletes and others who shared extra-curricular activities with the three young women and made the music department and gymnasium available for them to gather and express themselves.
Ouderkirk said a number of young people riding one of the district's buses home from school Wednesday came upon the crash site before emergency-rescue personnel arrived and will also be afforded any added attention and counseling that they might need.
All sporting events the district had scheduled Thursday and today were canceled, but the school decided to hold the second of its two elementary-school Christmas concerts as planned Thursday night.
"The thought was we wanted to maintain some kind of routine for those who think they can make it," she said. "And we certainly understand if the close family and friends don't want to participate."
Lyon, a member of National Honor Society who'd hoped to become a nurse, was a class officer since seventh grade and played clarinet in band.
She had been an accomplished dancer at the All That Jazz Studio in Moira who competed in Syracuse and Massachusetts. But she gave dancing up to concentrate on school sports.
She was a member of the school's Varsity Club and was developing into a guard for the girls basketball team. She had also played for the school's varsity volleyball team since freshman year and was a member of the soccer and softball teams.
"She was a natural, gifted athlete who was playing basketball for the first time on varsity this year," said Sam Dumont, her basketball coach. "She had been part of the program here for a number of years, from modified right on up."
He said players on both the junior-varsity and varsity teams practice together much of the time "so they form a family, all the girls here."
Dumont said he was initially told that one of his players was involved in the accident, but it wasn't until the team had started its 5 p.m. practice that word of Lyon's identity and death were confirmed.
"We sat down with the girls and talked with them, then let them begin the grieving process," the coach said. "Practice wasn't any fun. We were supposed to start our first game of the season Friday."
He said Menke played basketball up until this year, when she chose to be the team's scorekeeper and equipment manager, and Collette is a volleyball player.
Dumont said that in addition to Lyon's schoolwork and sports commitments, the teen worked at a Malone convenience store.
"She was the kind of kid that it just makes it so hard to see (her) removed so early in life," he said. "As a coach, the Xs and Os are simple and irrelevant to the loss of a student."
WITH EACH OTHER
Ouderkirk said she is awed by the reaction school employees have demonstrated even as they face their own feelings about Wednesday's tragedy.
"I've been here only a short time, and I am unbelievably impressed with all of the compassion of the adults in this building," she said.
"They are compassionate not only at holiday time but during a situation like this, continuing the day-to-day concentrating on our young people."
She said counselors will remain available because "we're concerned that this may not surface for some people for a day or two or even next week."
Parents she has spoken with said their children wanted to go to school Thursday "because it's where they felt they needed to be and also to be with each other."
She said a poster board was hung on a wall of the school to allow students a place to express their thoughts in writing.
The posters will be given to the families "when the time is right."
Calling hours for Lyon will be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Flint Funeral Home followed at 2:30 p.m. by a Mass of Christian burial at St. Mary's Church.
Burial will be in Sunnyside Cemetery in Brushton.
The family has asked that donations in Lyon's memory be made to the Brushton-Moira Varsity Club, and online condolences may be made at www.flintfuneral homeny.com.
Email Denise A. Raymo at: firstname.lastname@example.org