Drowning killed teens in Poplar Bluff car accident

Monday, November 2, 2009 ~ Updated 10:49 AM

POPLAR BLLUFF, Mo. -- Drowning was the cause of death for all three Poplar Bluff High School students who died when a car overturned in a flooded creek at 7:31 a.m. Friday, according to Butler County Coroner Jim Akers.

The victims were identified as Kyle Rose, 16, Jeremiah Klein, 16, and his brother, Christopher Klein, 15, all of Poplar Bluff.

Assistant Superintendent Chris Hon said Kyle and Jeremiah were juniors and Christopher was a sophomore.

Counselors from the high school, junior high school and 5th and 6th Grade Center met with individuals and small groups of students Friday.

"It's a tragic situation. We're just letting the kids talk. We're just trying to be there for our students right now," Hon said.

Some parents picked up their grieving children.

Superintendent Ernie Lawson canceled the high school Halloween dance Friday night due to the deaths.

"It's a tragic, tragic accident. Any time people this young lose their life, it's just tragic," Lawson said.

Assistant Principal Sheldon Tyler said students remember Kyle had an infectious laugh.

"They said when Kyle laughed, everyone laughed," said Tyler, who described the boys as "good kids."

Tyler had just talked to Chris Thursday, joking and asking if he was doing good.

"It's hard to fathom in your mind that they're gone, that you can see kids one day, and the next day they are gone," Tyler said.

He explained how school policy was followed in informing the staff and students. Teachers were provided with the names of the three boys and told the students at the same time when a bell sounded.

To help students, Tyler and the staff "talked with them until they don't want to talk anymore. The more they talk, the more they're letting their grief out."

Sandie Price, the 11th grade counselor, described Kyle as "a very conscientious and sweet young man."

"He was very determined to do what he needed to do to graduate with his class. He was compassionate with his friends and his family. He was a very nice young man," Price said.

Students told Price how Christopher and Jeremiah liked to play games.

"I think these boys had touched lives," Price said.

She described the students as being "anxious" Friday.

"There were a lot of rumors going around during the day, but until we had full validation of who the students were, we couldn't say anything," Price said. "They were very distressed. All of these boys had made an impact on other students."

The faculty also is concerned about Kevin Parker, 16, the injured sophomore student who was driving the other car, and will work closely with the families of all the boys.

The two-car accident on Route PP at Iron Bridge Road remains under investigation by the Poplar Bluff Police Department.

"Further details will be released pending the completion of the accident investigation," Police Chief Danny Whiteley said in a news release Friday afternoon.

Assistance is being provided by the Missouri Highway Patrol accident reconstruction unit.

Poplar Bluff police officers arrived at the scene in four minutes and found two cars had traveled off the north side of Route PP, went down an embankment and ended up submerged in a creek which was overflowing with the recent heavy rain.

Police said Kyle was the driver of a white 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix. Jeremiah was the front seat passenger and Christopher was the back seat passenger.

"They were trapped in the overturned vehicle and had to be extricated," Whiteley said.

All three were pronounced dead at the scene by the coroner between 9 and 9:06 a.m.

Parker was driving a red 1999 Pontiac Firebird which also went into the water. He was able to get out before it submerged. He was transported by ambulance to Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center where he was treated for minor injuries and released Friday.

Akers said both cars were westbound toward Parker's house to get a computer cable when the Rose auto hydroplaned and hit Parker's car on the four-lane highway.

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