Madison County High School is preparing to support students in mourning, as they return for the first time without a classmate.
Lane Warren, an 18-year-old senior, died hours after a Saturday night crash that left another student clinging to life. He and his date were on their way to Madison's homecoming dance.
Now, the school community is coping with tragedy. The principal says this is the first student death during a school year in his nine years at Madison County High School. A team of counselors will greet students Tuesday morning to help them grieve the loss of a classmate.
"Lane was very well-liked. He was an athlete. He wrestled and played soccer," said Mike Sisler, principal of Madison County High School.
A shin guard reads "RIP Lane" placed along Carpenters Mill Road where Warren's car came to rest Saturday night. Warren and his 16-year-old date were headed to homecoming.
State police say Warren rounded a curve and lost control on the rain-slicked road. The crash sheared off a wooden mailbox post and flipped. Warren died at the University of Virginia Medical Center early Sunday morning.
"It's a small school, so everybody knows everybody, and being a senior he's been here four years," Sisler said. "It's going to be difficult for the groups he was closely associated with."
Madison County is preparing for a tough return to school for Warren's classmates Tuesday.
"We're here to support all of our students and staff and the families in our community," said Susan Aylor, director of student services for Madison County Public Schools.
The high school's crisis team met with teachers Monday to help them handle grieving students. All six county school counselors will be there Tuesday.
"I certainly ask for all students to reach out to an adult that they trust, an adult they respect and that they feel is someone safe to talk to so they can discuss their feelings," Aylor said.
Sisler reminds his students the support of a strong Mountaineer community will help them get through the grief. "It's not going to be an overnight thing; it's going to be a long process for some," he said.
The school system says neighboring counties are offering help, including additional counselors.
The 16-year-old Madison County High School junior who was injured in the accident remains in critical condition Monday night at UVA Medical Center.
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