BRISTOL, Tenn. - Counselors are on hand at Tennessee High School in Bristol after a crash Friday afternoon killed two teens.
17-year-old Blake Looney and 15-year-old Colton Taylor died in a car accident Friday afternoon in Washington County, Virginia at The Reserve, a gated community. According to Virginia State Police the car went off the road and hit a large tree stump, killing both teens.
A third person in the car, 18-year-old Charlie Arnie, is expected to recover.
On Monday Tennessee High School Principal Dr. Mary Rouse released this statement:
"At Tennessee High School, our hearts are broken by the deaths of Blake Looney and Colton Taylor. We extend our deepest sympathies to their families for their tragic loss. For our students who are struggling, we have counselors at the school and readily available to meet with them."
Monday we talked with a youth counselor about the impact a tragedy like this can have on a teenager and what families can do to help them through this difficult time.
With heavy hearts it was back to class for students at Tennessee High School Monday morning, but being together with peers and in a familiar routine can be good for teens dealing with tragedy according to counselor Tim Perry. "Giving them an opportunity to embrace one another, get strength from one another and talk to one another about what [they're] going through can be very supportive and very healing for an adolescent," he said.
Perry often talks to children and teens dealing with grief and says it's a process, not an event, and the process can take a while. "To recognize there are certain things you can expect that are normal with grief like anger, shock, disbelief, depression and sadness," adds Perry.
Counselors encourage people to talk to one another about what they're dealing with and for teens it can be good to get involved or do an activity. "It may be helpful for them to do something to remember the person that's lost or something that makes them feel positive about how they've contributed to the community or the family or other peers," says Perry.
Perry adds teens often relate to one another better than they would an adult and it may be beneficial for adults to simply listen and not be quick to offer advice.
For some Tennessee High students this is a familiar feeling after losing classmate and Tennessee High student Austin Arnold in 2012.
Perry says opening up old wounds can make this grieving process even more difficult to overcome. "It may be more exaggerated emotions for those kids and if that's what they are going through than they may need more assistance," he said.
If the grief interrupts daily routines and prevents teens from continuing on their normal activities, Perry says it may be a good idea to seek professional help.
A funeral service for Blake Looney will be held Monday evening at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Tennessee.
Tuesday evening will be the funeral for Colton Taylor at 7 p.m. at Avoca Christian Church on Volunteer Parkway in Bristol.
Virginia State Police investigators say the crash is still under investigation.
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