It’s a time of year when school is starting to wind down, celebrations are on the horizon, and the anticipation of summer is in the air. However, in La Junta, it’s a time of great loss.
The community is mourning three of their own-a 2017 high school graduate, a junior, and a high school track coach. All were killed in car accidents over the past week.
Rick Lovato, superintendent of La Junta Public Schools said, "We’re prepared for a pretty sad couple weeks leading into graduation…the students are really hurting. Yesterday was really a tough day all the way around-teachers, students, parents."
Lovato says early Saturday morning La Junta High School Track Coach Miguel Narez was killed in a car accident on Highway 10.
"He ran into a bridge and passed away…Miguel was a big fella. He was a local kid, graduated Swink, very talented."
The very next day high school junior Kaylee Springer was killed in an accident on Highway 109. Her car drove off the road.
"Kaylee was a very, very spunky, tough kid, really loved softball…for me, personally, it hits home. She and my daughter were in the same class since kindergarten and it’s been tough."
Lovato says just a week before these accidents the town also lost Dakota Settle, a 2017 La Junta High School graduate.
"Super happy person, had an amazing singing voice."
With so much loss in such a short amount of time Lovato’s encouragement to everyone is to spend time with the people that you love and to not take any of that for granted.
Lovato says in two of the accidents the drivers were not wearing seat belts. His reminder to everyone is to buckle up and pay attention when out on the road.
For students in La Junta who are struggling, several agencies are coming together to provide counseling services as needed.