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Chemeketa Memorial Honors Lost StudentsVideo by Jerry Freeman Salem-News.com
"Our heart breaks for the families of these victims..." - Chemeketa Pres. Cheryl Roberts
(SALEM, Ore.) - Chemeketa Community College and Winema High School Programs are mourning a tragic accident which took the lives of 2 high school students and has left the other student in critical condition at Salem Hospital.
Thursday afternoon, a vehicle travelling north on Lancaster swerved off the road and struck the students on the sidewalk at the Winema Place intersection. The driver has been charged with manslaughter and driving under the influence.
Officials from Chemeketa Community College, Salem- Keizer School District and Winema High School met reporters at the scene of the accident this morning. A memorial of flowers, balloons and cards continues to expand as family and friends of the victims visit the scene of the alleged crime.
In an emotional interview with reporters, Chemeketa President Cheryl Roberts said, "Our heart breaks for the families of these victims and we want to support our grieving staff and students in any way possible."
Chemeketa and Salem-Keizer counselors as well as the college's crisis management team have been working both internally and externally to offer counseling services and employee assistance resources. A temporary counseling center has been set up at the Winema High School.
While attendance was made optional for Winema High School students today, many of the grieving students came to school to gather in support of their peers and have been able to access the counseling services offered.
Chemeketa is working closely with local law enforcement for updated medical information on the critically injured student and has officially requested with the Oregon Governor's office to lower the campus flag to half-mast in honor of the victims.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and all of the students and staff of Winema High School," said Salem-Keizer Superintendent Sandy Husk. "We appreciate our partnership with Chemeketa Community College and Marion County Sheriff's Office. This is a very sad day and a terrible tragedy. Our focus will be on helping everyone heal to the extent possible as we move forward."
Winema High School Programs provide high school curriculum to students from Marion, Polk and Yamhill school districts. Chemeketa faculty members support the students and the high school campus is located on the Chemeketa Salem Campus.
Jerry Freeman is part of a new generation of dedicated news photographers who are entering the Internet news industry as a second career. He shares in common with many people the dream of becoming a visual journalist. Joining the Navy at an early age, and the Oregon Army Guard a few years later, Jerry has a wide range of life experiences. He describes himself as “an old truck driver with a new found passion to bare witness on the world’s events.” Teaming up with Salem-News.com he embarks on a new career as a video news photographer and reporter. Stay tuned, and see how it turns out. Jerry seems to exhibit natural talent and is already becoming a published member of the Salem-News.com team. You can send Jerry Freeman an email at this address: Salem-News@gravityshadow.com
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