PARIS — Members of the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School community spent Monday coming to grips with the weekend deaths of a current student and a former student.
“I wanted to do something but I didn't know what to do,” said a tearful Autumn Berry, a junior at the school late Monday afternoon.
With tears streaming down her face, she sat in a car with her mother on the side of Route 219 in West Paris, overlooking the steep embankment where the car carrying four current and former Oxford Hills School District students shot off the road into a stand of trees early Saturday morning, killing two of the passengers.
Berry, who lives in Waterford, was one of many students at the school who were trying to come to terms with the accident that killed Rebecca Lynn Mason, of West Paris, an OHCHS sophomore, and Logan Dam, 19, of West Paris, a former OHCHS student.
The driver of the car, Kristina Lowe, 18 of West Paris, a 2011 graduate of the school and a certified nursing assistant at Market Square Health Care Center, remains in Maine Medical Center in Portland with serious injuries.
Jacob Skaff, 22, of Paris, also a former OHCHS student, was treated and released at Stephens Memorial Hospital. Police say drinking and texting were the cause of the crash. Though injured, both Lowe and Skaff left the scene of the accident, police said.
The approximately 1,160 students started their day with a moment of silence for the accident victims, OHCHS junior Skylar Bullard of Norway said. “Everyone had sad faces,” he said.
“It's pretty impossible to have a normal day,” said Principal Ted Moccia, who met with his staff before the start of school Monday morning to discuss how they would handle the various emotions the students would bring to school with them over the deaths.
“We're processing and working our way through as a school. This is such a sad waste of lives,” he said.
“The counselors are doing a great job,” Moccia said of the grief counselors who have been in the school throughout the weekend and will be available Tuesday and beyond if necessary to help the students cope with the tragedy.
Moccia described Mason as a nice and intelligent girl who liked to play field hockey.
“She was just a great kid. Our hearts and emotions go out to these families,” he said.
In Mason's obituary, her family wrote of the girl they knew as Becca: “Rebecca's life was like a shooting star, beautiful and bright traveling across the sky for all to see, full of potential and energy, but ending much too soon. She touched so many hearts, and left behind fond memories to be cherished forever. Those of us who loved and knew her, family and friends, anyone touched in some small way by Becca, let us all live a little better; try a little harder; and love a little more. These are the things Rebecca Lynn Mason would have added to our world.”
Dam attended Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School and had been employed this year at Sunday River and Camp Wigwam as a chef and line cook. He enjoyed being with his friends, motorcycling, skiing and snowmobiling, according to information in his obituary.
“The wind has been taken out of their sails,” said one teacher of the student body's attempt to deal with the tragic loss of their fellow students.
This was the second accidental death of a student at the high school since classes for the new school year began in September. Albert C. Roberti Jr., 14, of Paris, a freshman at the high school was killed in September in an ATV accident when he crashed his all terrain vehicle into the back of his friend's ATV.