Students cope with loss of friends

SLEEPY EYE – Students ventured into the gymnasium at Sleepy Eye High School on Monday morning.

The gym offered a familiar setting, but the event brought them into uncharted territory.

They came not to participate in an athletic contest that either brings the joy of victory or the disappointment of a defeat. They came to find solace in a loss that few persons their age have ever experienced.

Grief counselors came to the gym to meet with students seeking to understand why four young people in the community of Sleepy Eye died Friday night in a car accident on the western edge of t own.

The deaths are one the worst tragedy to hit the community in recent memory, townspeople have said.

The Monday morning counseling session took place even though classes were not held due to a teacher in-service day.

The accident is one of the most challenging situations that Sleepy Eye Superintendent John Cselovszki has dealt with during his career in education, he said.

Wednesday afternoon the gymnasium will host visitations for John Mangen, a 2013 graduate of Sleepy Eye High School and Tyler Hadley, a 2012 graduate of SEHS.

Meanwhile, students at Springfield High School are dealing with the death of junior Caleb Quesenberry. Counselors were available Monday and today, according to Springfield Superintendent Keith Kottke

Next Monday afternoon, the visitation for Payton Adams will be held in the gymnasium of St. Mary’s High School. Kansas Adams, the driver of the car and the brother of Payton, remains hospitalized.

As students left the SEHS gym on Monday morning, some stopped to visit the memorial that occupies a part of the parking lot. On Saturday night, the site glowed with the light of candles, illuminating photos of the accident victims and other mementos. Pictures of the site quickly spread on social media.

On Monday afternoon, the warm weather melted the snow at the site, but the unlit candles provided the scene for a silent vigil for mourning students. Someone arranged votive candles in the shape of a heart.

A solemn group of students conversed quietly as some viewed the mementos that triggered memories of young lives snuffed out in an instant. The sun shone brightly for those in the dark days of grief.

Meanwhile, the Fargo Forum published a story on its Internet edition on Saturday, reporting that the Adams brothers are the sons of Rick Adams of Dilworth, lead singer of The Roosters, a country band.

Adams described his son, Payton, a junior at St. Mary’s High School in Sleepy Eye, as “a happy-go-lucky guy,” who played football and varsity basketball. He said the brothers were best friends, according to the Fargo Forum.

Staff writers Clay Schuldt and Donna Weber contributed to this article.

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