Crash of Flight 5191

Tragedy hits two Lexington schools hard

Nearly everyone at Lexington Christian Academy knows the Turner family.

Lois Turner, a founding member of the school and currently a middle-school math teacher, has been involved there for almost three decades. Her husband, Larry Turner, was often in attendance at school activities with their three children, Molly, 25, Amy, 22, and Clay, 18, who all graduated from Lexington Christian.

So when Larry Turner died aboard Comair Flight 5191 on Sunday, students, parents and teachers visited Lois and her children in a show of solidarity and support.

"They are praying for us and have called us with words of encouragement," said Lois. "I've been overwhelmed by their support and kindness and love."

Because most of the 50 people aboard Flight 5191 were Lexington residents, about five Fayette County public schools were directly affected by the crash.

"Lexington is a small town," and a relatively large number of people were affected by the crash, said Yvonne Erbe, a counselor at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts at Bluegrass. "Everyone is going to know someone else, either directly or indirectly. You feel the impact."

Erbe is also a member of the Fayette school district's Crisis Response Team, comprised of 31 guidance counselors, school psychologists and social workers who respond to schools during trauma.

At SCAPA, two students who were brother and sister lost their father in the crash. Erbe said she could not discuss the pair specifically, but spoke generally about what the school has done.

Some students were unaware of the crash, she said, and even those who knew didn't realize that one of the victims "was a member of our SCAPA family."

Erbe met with students in small groups yesterday morning and talked about loss and the process of grieving. She emphasized that "there are no set ways to grieve."

Superintendent Stu Silberman asked all schools to raise their flags to half-staff and to begin the day with a moment of silence yesterday.

Mike Kennedy, district professional development coordinator and a co-leader of the Crisis Response Team, said the group has been operating since 1985.

But after 9/11, the group's mission changed, he said, to include not just death, but tragedies, he said. The most recent tragedy the group responded to was the death of a well-known Lafayette High School student, who was struck by a car this spring.

Kennedy said the crisis team did not respond to schools yesterday, but had a plan in case principals requested help. And guidance counselors at individual schools provided assistance.

Lois Turner said the school's parents have shown incredible compassion. They will provide dinner before her husband's memorial service and will work with the family's church, Christ United Methodist, to help with funeral arrangements, she said.

"To see my students come visit me just touched me so much," she said, "and I'll never forget that they came."

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