2 teens killed, 1 critical after crash near Elizabeth
Two Harrison County teens were killed and another critically injured in a single-car crash late last Wednesday night, Nov. 23.
Joshua J. Beanblossom, 16, of Laconia and Alex Simmons, 16, of Elizabeth were pronounced dead at the scene. Brett Timberlake, 15, of Laconia was airlifted to University Hospital in Louisville where he was still listed yesterday in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit.
Beanblossom was driving northwest at a high rate of speed on the Elizabeth-New Middletown Road when the 2002 Mercury Cougar he was driving crested a hill and skidded before striking a row of trees, according to a report by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept.
Simmons was in the front passenger’s seat. Police said both he and Beanblossom were wearing their seat belts.
Timberlake, who was in the rear and ejected in the crash, appeared not to have had his seat belt on prior to the accident, the report said.
All three were on Thanksgiving break from South Central Junior-Senior High School near Elizabeth.
Principal Jim Crisp said Beanblossom and Simmons’ parents were consulted concerning how the school would handle the deaths.
The parents requested only that the administrators and teachers have counselors available to ‘take care of the kids’ as they grieved for their lost classmates.
After several days away from school, which included two emotional funerals, Crisp decided to provide professional counselors so that the students could express their feelings.
‘In many cases, the teachers are the familiar face they want to talk to,’ Crisp said Monday, ‘and many teachers took on that role today.’
And in other cases, Crisp said, the kids preferred to share their emotions with someone they didn’t know.
SCJSHS Counselor Rick Graves said Monday that four counselors were present to talk with students but primarily just to listen. Those included Graves and Chastity Sward from South Central and Manda Bussabarger and Deborah Evans from Corydon Central High School.
The strategy was to let the students talk and express their grief. Some wrote notes or letters that were placed on a wall outside the school office; others wrote letters to the parents and to injured Brett Timberlake.
‘We’re a small community,’ Crisp said. ‘One of the great strengths of a small community is that we pull together.’
Crisp said he’s had lots of calls from parents who volunteered to help in any way they could, including opening up their homes to students to gather and share their emotions, whether sadness, anger or confusion, as to how this could happen to friends of theirs who were just beginning their adult lives.
Graves said he advised his fellow teachers to keep several things in mind, including quashing gossip and rumors, keeping an eye on the unusually quiet student or close friends of the deceased, encouraging the students to talk, and not abandoning all structure in the school day.
‘We will improvise as needed,’ Crisp said. ‘What gets lost in all of this are the teachers who have known these kids for many years, some from kindergarten. This has hit the faculty hard. This is a very difficult situation,’ Crisp said.
The last South Central student to die in school was Katrina Archibald, who died of cancer in November of 2002.
Joshua J. Beanblossom was a native of Corydon, born Jan. 25, 1989, the son of Glenn E. and Tammy J. Avery Beanblossom. He was a junior at South Central and a member of Harrison County 4-H.
Survivors besides his parents include a sister, Felicia J. Weber of Elizabeth, and grandparents James A. and Ruth Ann Crosier of Laconia, Betty and Cecil Maus of Ekron, Ky., and Hank and Janice Avery of Elizabeth.
The funeral was Saturday at Beanblossom-Cesar Funeral Home in Corydon with burial in Old Goshen Cemetery near Laconia.
Pallbearers were Jim Snook, Gary Gilley, Andy and Kyle Eschbacher, Gary Miller and Howard Dale Faith.
Alex Simmons was a native of Clark County, born Sept. 22, 1989, the son of Kathy Simmons of Brandenburg, and David and Cheryl Simmons of Elizabeth.
He was a freshman at South Central and a member of Buck Grove Baptist Church at Ekron, Ky.
He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Willard O. Simmons.
Survivors besides his parents include a brother, Eric Simmons of Elizabeth; grandparents Bud and Cletice McRae and Lucille Simmons, all of Elizabeth, and three stepbrothers, Quentin, Daniel and Lucas West, all of Elizabeth.
The funeral was Sunday at Gehlbach & Royse Funeral Home in Corydon with burial in Evans Landing Cemetery. Brother Dave Campbell officiated.
Pallbearers were Crandall Simpson, Justin Heitkemper, T.J. Troutman, Alan Bishop, Nick Stinnett and Nick Bishop.
Honorary pallbearers were Sam McRae and Lucas West.
A scholarship fund for South Central High School and Meade County (Ky.) High School seniors has been created in Simmons’ memory. Contributions can be made at either Farmers State Bank in Elizabeth or First Federal Savings in Brandenburg. Checks should be payable to Alex Simmons Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Editor Randy West also contributed information to this article. The family of Joshua Beanblossom respectfully declined the newspaper’s request for a photo of their son.