UPDATE: 3rd student dies after western Wisconsin crash - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: 3rd student dies after western Wisconsin crash

Photo courtesy Eau Claire County Sheriff's Office Photo courtesy Eau Claire County Sheriff's Office

A third teen has died following a car crash in Eau Claire County.  The crash happened Tuesday night around 7:00 p.m. in the Town of Washington. 

15-year-old Marco Perez, of Strum, passed away Wednesday afternoon from injuries received in the crash. 

Perez was one of five teens in a car that lost control and rolled on Walnut Road.  Deputies say the car was traveling at a high rate of speed when it came over a hill. 

The driver, 14-year-old Austin Gable also of Strum, died at the scene.  A passenger in the car, 13-year-old McKenna Johnson who was from Eleva, was also killed. 

The other two passengers were taken to the hospital for injuries.  There is no word on their condition.  All five teens were students in the Eleva-Strum School District. 

"All of the students were nice students, they were well liked here at school," says Craig Semingson, Eleva-Strum School District Superintendent. 

Wednesday was a somber day in the Eleva-Strum School District. 

"Whenever there's a loss like this, it hits the whole school," says Semingson.  "And even the students who didn't know them well are saddened by it because they saw them in the hallways, saw them at lunch time." 

By the time school started, a number of students already heard the news of the fatal car crash that killed three fellow students and injured two others. 

"A couple of our counselors and teachers got on Facebook right away just to see what the interaction was and what the kids were saying," says Semingson. 

Counselors were on hand throughout the day to help grieving students, including counselors from the Mondovi and Osseo-Fairchild School Districts. 

"Knowing that we're all in a small school, we have limited staff and when there's a tragedy like this, we may have 15 to 20 students who we may need to have some counseling for," says Semingson. 

"With the holiday's you're focused so much on the relationships and family time that you feel that sense of loss even greater at that time," says Talitha Kempf, Eleva-Strum school counselor. 

Starting on Monday, students will be off for Christmas break so parents may want to keep a little closer eye on their children.  Kempf says parents should talk to their kids and let them know they are there for them.  And to let them express themselves whatever way is most helpful, whether that includes something like art work, diaries or letters. 

Not only has the news been difficult for the Eleva and Strum communities, law enforcement says telling a family they lost a loved one is never easy. 

"It affects us all in different ways, and we always think to ourselves you don't want to come across a scene where you know people in it, you try to separate and isolate yourself from the incident itself." 

Law enforcement was back at the scene Wednesday trying to determine how fast Gable was driving when the car lost control.  Deputies say the car belonged to the parents of a 16-year-old who was in the car.

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